Long-Term Intellectual and Fine Motor Outcomes in Spina Bifida Are Related to Myelomeningocele Repair and Shunt Intervention History

Ashley L. Ware*, Paulina A. Kulesz, Julian S. Orkisz, C. N. Arrington, Robin M. Bowman, Jack M. Fletcher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Lifespan outcomes of simultaneous versus sequential myelomeningocele repair and shunt placement or effects of repeated shunt revisions on specific domains of IQ or fine motor dexterity are largely unknown. The current study addressed these gaps in a large cohort of children and adults with spina bifida myelomeningocele (SBM).Methods: Participants between 7 and 44 years of age with SBM and shunted hydrocephalus were recruited from international clinics at two time points. Each participant completed a standardized neuropsychological evaluation that included estimates of IQ and fine motor dexterity. Simultaneous versus sequential surgical repair and number of shunt revisions were examined in relation to long-term IQ and fine motor scores.Results: Simultaneous myelomeningocele repair and shunting were associated with more frequent shunt revisions, as well as to lower Full Scale and verbal IQ scores, controlling for number of shunt revisions. More shunt revisions across study time points were associated with higher nonverbal IQ (NVIQ) scores. No effects were observed on fine motor dexterity.Conclusions: Findings indicate generally greater influence of surgery type over shunt revision history on outcomes in well-managed hydrocephalus. Findings supported apparent, domain-specific benefits of sequential compared to simultaneous surgery across the lifespan in SBM. Higher NVIQ scores with greater number of additional shunt revisions across surgery type supported positive outcomes with effective surgical management for hydrocephalus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-371
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the International Neuropsychological Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2020


  • Congenital hydrocephalus
  • Fine motor dexterity
  • IQ
  • Intelligence
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Shunt revisions
  • Spina bifida
  • Surgical shunt placement

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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