Inclusion Cysts after Fetal Spina Bifida Repair: A Third Hit?

Fetal Diagn Ther. 2019;46(1):38-44. doi: 10.1159/000491877. Epub 2018 Sep 10.


Introduction: Fetal spina bifida repair (fSBR) has proven effective in the reversibility of hindbrain herniation, lower rate of shunt-dependent hydrocephalus, and independent ambulation. Besides distinct advantages, there are also concerns related to fSBR. One of these is the postnatal occurrence of inclusion cysts (IC).

Methods: In a prospective study, 48 children who underwent fSBR were followed up. Postnatal assessment included clinical examination, cystometry, and spinal MRI. Indication for IC resection was the evidence of a spinal mass on MRI in the presence of deteriorating motor or bladder function, pain, or considerable growth of the IC.

Results: Fourteen children (30%) developed IC, all within the first 2 years of life. Six children underwent IC resection; 4 children due to deteriorating function, 2 children due to doubling of the mass on MRI within 1 year. Following IC resection, 4/6 children (67%) demonstrated altered motor function and 6 children (100%) were diagnosed with neurogenic bladder dysfunction.

Conclusions: Systematic follow-up of patients with a history of fSBR revealed a high incidence of IC. Whether these are of dysembryogenic or iatrogenic origin, remains unclear. Since both IC per se and IC resection may lead to loss of neurologic function, IC can be considered a "third hit".

Keywords: Dermoid; Fetal MMC repair; Inclusion cysts; Spina bifida repair.

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System Cysts / complications*
  • Central Nervous System Cysts / diagnostic imaging
  • Central Nervous System Cysts / epidemiology
  • Central Nervous System Cysts / surgery
  • Female
  • Fetus / surgery
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Postoperative Complications / diagnostic imaging
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Spinal Dysraphism / complications*
  • Spinal Dysraphism / surgery