Purpose: Recent data comparing prenatal to postnatal closure of myelomeningocele showed a decreased need for ventriculoperitoneal shunting and improved lower extremity motor outcomes in patients who underwent closure prenatally. A total of 11 children whose spinal defect was closed in utero were followed at our spina bifida center. We hypothesized that in utero repair of myelomeningocele improves lower urinary tract function compared to postnatal repair.
Materials and methods: Eleven patients who underwent in utero repair were matched to 22 control patients who underwent postnatal repair according to age, gender and level of spinal defect. Urological outcomes were retrospectively reviewed including urodynamic study data, need for clean intermittent catheterization, use of anticholinergic agents and prophylactic antibiotics, and surgical history. The need for ventriculoperitoneal shunting or spinal cord untethering surgery was also reviewed.
Results: Mean followup was 7.2 years for patients who underwent in utero repair and 7.3 years for those who underwent postnatal repair. Mean patient age at compared urodynamic studies was 5.9 years for in utero repair and 6.0 years for postnatal repair. The in utero repair group was comprised of 5 lumbar and 6 sacral level defects with equal matching (1:2) in the postnatal repair cohort. There were no differences between the groups in terms of need for clean intermittent catheterization, incontinence between catheterizations or anticholinergic/antibiotic use. Urodynamic parameters including bladder capacity, detrusor pressure at capacity, detrusor overactivity and the presence of detrusor sphincter dyssynergia were not significantly different between the groups. There was no difference in the rate of ventriculoperitoneal shunting (p = 0.14) or untethering surgery (p = 0.99).
Conclusions: While in utero closure of myelomeningocele has been shown to decrease rates of ventriculoperitoneal shunting and improve motor function, it is not associated with any significant improvement in lower urinary tract function compared to repair after birth.
Copyright © 2012 American Urological Association Education and Research, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.