Meningocele is a type of spina bifida in which the spinal cord develops normally but the meninges protrude from a spinal opening. Symptoms vary; while some people will have few or no symptoms of spina bifida, other people may have incomplete paralysis with urinary and bowel dysfunction.
Symptoms of meningocele vary between patients. Some people with the condition will have few or no symptoms of spina bifida, while other patients may have incomplete paralysis with urinary and bowel dysfunction.
The exact cause of spina bifida is unknown, and research scientists do not know what disrupts the complete closure of the neural tube, causing a malformation to develop. However, they do suspect that genetic, nutritional, and environmental factors may play a role in the cause of meningocele.
In most cases, a meningocele diagnosis is made before birth. Tests that are used to make a diagnosis include: * Second-trimester maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening * Fetal ultrasound * Multiple-marker screens * Amniocentesis.
How well a patient does depends on the initial condition of the spinal cord and nerves. Possible outcomes range from normal development to various losses of muscle function. The ability to walk and control bowel and bladder function depends on the location of the defect. Those that occur lower down on the spinal cord are associated with a better outcome. Hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") develops in about 70% of patients with myelomeningocele. Some patients have hydrocephalus when they are born. A tube that drains the extra fluid from the brain to the belly area may have to be inserted.