Is Routine Preoperative Transthoracic Echocardiography Necessary in Newborns With Myelomeningocele?

J Perinatol. 2015 Oct;35(10):842-5. doi: 10.1038/jp.2015.74. Epub 2015 Jul 9.


Objective: Congenital heart disease (CHD) is common in newborns with myelomeningocele. Echocardiography before neonatal back closure has been recommended. Its utility in the era of prenatal diagnosis is unclear.

Study design: We reviewed all newborns with myelomeningocele evaluated by preoperative echocardiography at our institution over 11 years.

Result: Seventy-six successive newborns were identified. Ninety-one percent were prenatally diagnosed with myelomeningocele. In all, 1% had critical, 12% critical or non-critical and 22% critical, non-critical or possible CHD. The single case of critical CHD was both prenatally diagnosed and clinically identifiable.

Conclusion: The prevalence of CHD in newborns with myelomeningocele is increased compared with the general population; however, critical disease is uncommon. We propose preoperative echocardiography is unnecessary when the myelomeningocele is prenatally diagnosed, antenatal cardiac screening is complete and normal, and the newborn is clinically well.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / complications*
  • Heart Defects, Congenital / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Meningomyelocele / diagnosis*
  • Meningomyelocele / surgery*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Diagnosis / standards*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Tertiary Care Centers
  • Ultrasonography, Prenatal
  • United States