The relationship between time of surgical intervention and eventual outcome was examined in 110 newborns with myelomeningocele. Numerous earlier reports have cited a significant increase in mortality and morbidity associated with delay of surgery beyond 48 hours. Within the study population of infants, 52 infants (47%) had "early" surgery within the first 48 hours of life, 32 infants (29%) had "delayed" surgery between 3 and 7 days of age, 12 infants (11%) had "late" surgery between 1 week and 10 months of age, and 14 infants (13%) never had surgery by parental decision. Survival rates were similar between those with early, delayed, or late surgery as 92%, 94%, and 100%, respectively, were alive at age 10 months. Also, no significant association existed between time of surgery and development of ventriculitis, developmental delay, or worsening of paralysis. From these observations, it is concluded that there is no urgency in surgical intervention for the initial management of newborns with myelomeningocele. Rather, there is time for comprehensive discussions, counseling, and emotional support for those parents in need of a decision-making process before establishing consent for or against surgical management of their newborn.
- Received January 23, 1984.
- Accepted March 13, 1984.
- Copyright © 1985 by the American Academy of Pediatrics