Hydrocephalus in Spina Bifida

Neurol India. 2021 Nov-Dec;69(Supplement):S367-S371. doi: 10.4103/0028-3886.332247.


Hydrocephalus is the most important co-morbidity in myelomeningocele from a neurosurgical perspective. Historically, 75-80% of patients with myelomeningocele have required treatment with a shunt but recent advances including intra-uterine myelomeningocele closure and ETV-CPC are reducing this burden. The expression of hydrocephalus differs between patients and across the life span. Hydrocephalus impacts the clinical expression of other important co-morbidities including the Chiari II malformation and tethered spinal cord. Shunt failure is often the key stress to prompt symptomatic worsening of these other conditions. Shunt failure may occur with minimal ventricular change on CT or MRI in Spina Bifida patients. Waiting for radiographic changes in symptomatic SB patients with shunts may result in hydrocephalus related fatalities. It is hypothesized but not proven that shunt failure may contribute to respiratory insufficiency and be a risk factor for sudden death in adult patients with spina bifida. Excellence in hydrocephalus management in MMC is essential for proper care, good outcomes, and quality of life for patients and families.

Keywords: Hydrocephalus; endoscopic third ventriculostomy; ventricular shunt.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocephalus* / diagnostic imaging
  • Hydrocephalus* / etiology
  • Meningomyelocele* / complications
  • Quality of Life
  • Spinal Dysraphism* / complications