Early diagnosis and treatment of spinal dysraphism to prevent urinary incontinence

M. De Gennaro, A. Lais, G. Fariello, M. Caldarelli, N. Capozza, M. Talamo, P. Caione

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Spinal dysraphism represents a very rare congenital anomaly of the spinal cord and cauda equina, often associated with cutaneous sacral lesions. This condition results in distorsion of neural tissue, possibly leading tc vesical dysfunction and urinary incontinence. A series of 12 children with spinal dysraphism (4 lipomeningoceles with tethered cord, 3 tight filum terminale, 2 dermal sinuses, 2 arachnoid cysts, 1 anterior meningocele) observed during the last 6 years is presented. The patients are divided into two groups: group A includes 5 infants (age range 4 months-2 years) and group B 7 older children (4-12 years). All 7 patients of group B were referred for urinary incontinence as their chief complaint; only 1 had evidence of a skin lesion while 3 had a club foot. In group A, 4 had skin lesions (2 asymptomatic and 2 dermal sinuses referred after several episodes of meningitis) and the 5th child had a club foot. The diagnosis was made by myelo-CT scan in the earlier 4 and by magnetic resonance imaging in the more recent 8 cases. All 12 children were operated. In group B, the patients' urinary incontinence persisted but did not worsen (3 were stable and 4 had slightly improved); in group A, 2 were dry (follow-up > 2 years), 1 could not be accurately evaluated because he was less than 2 years of age, and the 2 who suffered from meningitis were incontinent. Early diagnosis and neurosurgical treatment of spinal dysraphism may prevent urinary incontinence. Accurate urodynamic, neurophysiologic, and neuroradiologic evaluation of children with severe voiding anomalies or club foot is recommended even if no lumbosacral cutaneous lesions are present.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-145
Number of pages6
JournalEuropean Urology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1991


  • Magnetic resonance Neurosurgery
  • Spinal dysraphism
  • Tethered spinal cord
  • Urodynamics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urology

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