Purpose: We retrospectively reviewed 39 patients with a tethered spinal cord to evaluate whether surgical release positively influenced urological symptoms or urodynamic findings.
Materials and methods: The patients were divided into 2 groups: group 1-11 with occult spinal dysraphism and group 2-28 with secondary spinal cord tethering after previous closure of a myelomeningocele or resection of a lipomyelomeningocele. Diagnosis was confirmed in all cases by magnetic resonance imaging or spinal ultrasound. A comprehensive urodynamic evaluation was done immediately preoperatively and 2 to 21 months (mean 7) postoperatively.
Results: In group 1 the most common preoperative urodynamic finding was hyperreflexia, which improved or resolved after untethering in 62.5% of the patients. Four adults also reported improved bladder sensation or decreased urgency. In group 2 the most common urodynamic finding was impaired compliance, followed closely by detrusor hyperreflexia. Urodynamic patterns of detrusor hyperreflexia or compliance improved in only 30% of the patients, while 48% had worsened patterns. Only 14% of group 2 had improved symptoms of urinary control but 28% had improved lower extremity function.
Conclusions: Urological symptoms and urodynamic patterns may be improved by early surgical intervention in patients with occult spinal dysraphism. However, untethering did not consistently benefit patients with secondary spinal cord tethering.