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Predictive Factors in Open Myelomeningocele with Special Reference to Sensory Level

Br Med J 1973; 4 doi: (Published 27 October 1973) Cite this as: Br Med J 1973;4:197
  1. Gillian Hunt,
  2. Walpole Lewin,
  3. John Gleave,
  4. Douglas Gairdner


    A total of 113 cases of open myelomeningocele operated on shortly after birth were followed up and the 80 survivors (71%) were assessed one and a quarter to seven and a half years later. Their disability was classified in terms of mobility, intelligence, continence, and major complications; these when combined provided an assessment of overall disability. The overall disability of the survivors was minimal in 6%, moderate in 40%, severe in 39%, and very severe in 15%.

    A number of clinical features present at birth were analysed for their predictive value. Of these the sensory level, which frequently differed from both external and radiological levels of the lesion, correlated with the outcome in terms of mobility, intelligence, continence, major complications, and overall disability; and also with deaths caused by renal failure.

    A policy of confining operation to those patients with a reasonable chance of achieving independence would involve selecting for treatment a minority of all infants born with open myelomeningocele.