Repair of the soft tissue defect in myelomeningoceles remains challenging. The literature currently lacks a systematic approach, reporting high rates of complications. We present outcomes from the largest series to date and describe a simplified approach that minimizes morbidity and streamlines decision making.
Patients 1 year or younger who underwent myelomeningocele repair between 2008 and 2018 were reviewed. Flap types were categorized by tissue composition. Complications were dichotomized into early and late (<30 days and >30 days postoperative, respectively). Logistic regression was used to measure the impact of flap tissue composition and skin closure technique on odds of postoperative complications.
Ninety-seven patients met inclusion criteria. Reoperation was required in only 3 (3.0%) patients—1 for wound dehiscence and 2 for surgical site infections. Zero cases of tethered cord or cerebrospinal fluid leak occurred. The most common minor complications were early wound complications (n = 18, 18.6%) and early infection (n = 5, 5.2%). Fascia-only flaps and muscle + other tissue flaps were not associated with higher odds of complications compared with muscle-only flaps (odds ratio [OR], 2.13; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.53–8.50, P = 0.29; OR = 2.87, 95% CI 0.66–12.51, P = 0.16, respectively). Rhomboid flaps for skin closure were associated with higher odds of complications (OR, 4.47; 95% CI, 1.00–19.97; P = 0.05).
Our approach to myelomeningocele repair demonstrated no cases of secondary tethered cord or cerebrospinal fluid leak, and reoperative rates were extremely low. Because complications were unrelated to flap type, we recommend a simplified approach using any tissue type for dural coverage and 2-layer primary closure of the skin.