Myelomeningocele--or spina bifida aperta--is easily recognized at birth by the open sac on a child's back. Often, the diagnosis is made before birth by giving the mother a blood test and a prenatal ultrasound. Once born, a child with myelomeningocele must be operated on quickly in order to avoid spinal fluid infection. This operation is generally done within 24 to 48 hours of birth.
Children born with myelomeningocele may have other problems including hydrocephalus--which requires a shunt in more than 90 percent of all myelomeningocele children.
As patients born with myelomeningocele grow, an interdisciplinary team of specialists will oversee their developmental progress. The University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital has an interdisciplinary myelodysplasia center in order to best address the needs of these children. This team includes:
Our experts will survey your child's development to make sure that leg function remains unchanged and later problems, including tethered spinal cord and difficulty with bladder function, are avoided.