Urological results after fetal myelomeningocele repair in pre-MOMS trial patients at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Fetal Diagn Ther. 2015;37(3):211-8. doi: 10.1159/000362932. Epub 2014 Jul 10.


Introduction: Myelomeningocele patients deal with multiple medical issues, including lower extremity neurological deficits, bowel and bladder incontinence and the sequelae of hydrocephalus secondary to a Chiari II malformation. In utero intervention holds the promise of reversing some of the sequelae and improving outcome.

Material and methods: Between 1998 and 2003 (preceding the formal Management of Myelomeningocele Study, MOMS), an initial group of 58 patients underwent in utero repair of their myelomeningocele between 21 and 25 weeks' gestation. Long-term (5-year) follow-up has occurred in this cohort of patients. Previous reports have documented decreased incidence of ventriculoperitoneal shunting and neuromotor functioning, showing improved outcomes compared with historical controls.

Results: Overall, 4 fetal deaths occurred, while the majority of patients returned for follow-up for up to 5 years after closure. Phone follow-up has also been conducted for those who could not return. To date, 10 patients (18.5%) have successfully toilet-trained, while 2 patients have bowel continence and 1 has bladder continence but requires enemas; 2 patients who successfully toilet-trained developed spinal dermoid cysts requiring surgical resection.

Discussion: Historically, in utero repair of myelomeningocele patients yields a greater percentage of patients who have achieved continence compared with those undergoing postnatal repair. The MOMS trial will compare contemporary urological outcomes of those patients undergoing either prenatal or postnatal repair in a randomized fashion. The results of this trial showed a decreased need for ventriculoperitoneal shunting in those patients who underwent in utero repair as well as an improvement in lower extremity function.

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Fetal Therapies*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Meningomyelocele / complications*
  • Meningomyelocele / surgery
  • Philadelphia
  • Toilet Training
  • Urinary Incontinence / etiology*