There is no cure for myelomeningocele. After the baby is born, treatments for myelomeningocele usually begin with surgery to repair the defect. Before surgery, it is important to handle the baby carefully to avoid or reduce the damage to the exposed spinal cord. In addition, children who concomitantly have hydrocephalus may also need a ventricular peritoneal shunt to drain extra fluid, and urinary tract infections or other infections, such as meningitis, may be treated with antibiotics.
Most children with myelomeningocele will require lifetime treatments for problems stemming from spinal cord and spinal nerve damage. These treatments include:
- Gentle downward pressure over the bladder to help drain the bladder. In severe cases, catheters may be needed. In addition, bowel training programs and a high-fiber diet may be required to improve bowel function.
- Orthopedic or physical therapy to treat musculoskeletal symptoms. Braces may be needed for muscle and joint problems.
Treatments for neurological losses will depend on the type and severity of the problems. In general, children with myelomeningocele will need lifetime monitoring and follow-up examinations, which are done to check the child’s developmental level and treat physical, neurological and intellectual problems.