Progressive hydrocephalus despite early complete reversal of hindbrain herniation after prenatal open myelomeningocele repair

Victor M. Lu, Kendall A. Snyder, Eniola R. Ibirogba, Rodrigo Ruano, David J. Daniels, Edward S. Ahn

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1 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE Open prenatal myelomeningocele (MMC) repair is typically associated with reversal of in utero hindbrain herniation (HBH) and has been posited to be associated with a reduction in both postoperative prenatal and immediate postnatal hydrocephalus (HCP) risks. However, the long-term postnatal risk of HCP following HBH reversal in these cases has not been well defined. The authors describe the results of a long-term HCP surveillance in a cohort of patients who underwent prenatal MMC repair at their institution. METHODS A retrospective review of all prenatal MMC repair operations performed at the Mayo Clinic between 2012 and 2017 was conducted. Pertinent data regarding the clinical courses of these patients before and after MMC repair were summarized. Outcomes of interest were occurrences of HBH and HCP and the need for intervention. RESULTS A total of 9 prenatal MMC repair cases were identified. There were 7 cases in which MRI clearly demonstrated prenatal HBH, and of these 86% (6/7) had evidence of HBH reversal after repair and prior to delivery. After a mean postnatal follow-up of 20 months, there were 3 cases of postnatal HCP requiring intervention. One case that failed to show complete HBH reversal after MMC repair required early ventriculoperitoneal shunting. The other 2 cases were of progressive, gradual-onset HCP despite complete prenatal HBH reversal, requiring endoscopic third ventriculostomy with choroid plexus cauterization at ages 5 and 7 months. CONCLUSIONS Although prenatal MMC repair can achieve HBH reversal in a majority of well-selected cases, the prevention of postnatal HCP requiring intervention appears not to be predicated on this outcome alone. In fact, it appears that in a subset of cases in which HBH reversal is achieved, patients can experience a progressive, gradual-onset HCP within the 1st year of life. These findings support continued rigorous postnatal surveillance of all prenatal MMC repair patients, irrespective of postoperative HBH outcome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberE13
JournalNeurosurgical focus
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019


  • Hindbrain herniation
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Open repair
  • Reversal
  • Spina bifida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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