Natural history of tethered cord in patients with meningomyelocele

Loi K. Phuong*, Kimberly A. Schoeberl, Corey Raffel, Leslie N. Sutton, Robin P. Humphreys, J. Gordon McComb, David G McLone, Alan R. Cohen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The purpose of this study was to describe the natural history of tethered cord in patients who have undergone meningomyelocele repair. METHODS: We performed a retrospective review of 45 patients with a history of neonatal meningomyelocele repair who subsequently developed symptoms of tethered cord. Symptoms of tethered cord in this cohort consisted of the development of bladder spasticity or orthopedic foot deformity. None of these patients were treated with cord untethering; instead, they were treated symptomatically. RESULTS: On follow-up, 40 (88.9%) of these patients subsequently required additional orthopedic or urological procedures because of further symptoms of tethered cord. The incidence of progression of tethered cord syndrome is 27.5, 40, and 60% at 1, 2, and 5 years, respectively. CONCLUSION: Although this study does not address the question whether cord untethering will prevent further symptom development, these results do provide a strong rationale for consideration of an untethering procedure in patients with repaired meningomyelocele at the time of the onset of symptoms of tethered cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)989-995
Number of pages7
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2002


  • Meningomyelocele
  • Tethered cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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