Thirty-day outcomes after postnatal myelomeningocele repair: A National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Pediatric database analysis

Jacob Cherian, Kristen A. Staggers, I. Wen Pan, Melissa Lopresti, Andrew Jea, Sandi Lam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Objective Due to improved nutrition and early detection, myelomeningocele repair is a relatively uncommon procedure. Although previous studies have reviewed surgical trends and predictors of outcomes, they have relied largely on single-hospital experiences or on databases centered on hospital admission data. Here, the authors report 30-day outcomes of pediatric patients undergoing postnatal myelomeningocele repair from a national prospective surgical outcomes database. They sought to investigate the association between preoperative and intraoperative factors on the occurrence of 30-day complications, readmissions, and unplanned return to operating room events. Methods The 2013 American College of Surgeons National Surgical Quality Improvement Program Pediatric database (NSQIP-P) was queried for all patients undergoing postnatal myelomeningocele repair. Patients were subdivided on the basis of the size of the repair (< 5 cm vs > 5 cm). Preoperative variables, intraoperative characteristics, and postoperative 30-day events were tabulated from prospectively collected data. Three separate outcomes for complication, unplanned readmission, and return to the operating room were analyzed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression. Rates of associated CSF diversion operations and their timing were also analyzed. Results A total of 114 patients were included; 54 had myelomeningocele repair for a defect size smaller than 5 cm, and 60 had repair for a defect size larger than 5 cm. CSF shunts were placed concurrently in 8% of the cases. There were 42 NSQIP-defined complications in 31 patients (27%); these included wound complications and infections, in addition to others. Postoperative wound complications were the most common and occurred in 27 patients (24%). Forty patients (35%) had at least one subsequent surgery within 30 days. Twenty-four patients (21%) returned to the operating room for initial shunt placement. Unplanned readmission occurred in 11% of cases. Both complication and return to operating room outcomes were statistically associated with age at repair. Conclusions The NSQIP-P allows examination of 30-day perioperative outcomes from a national prospectively collected database. In this cohort, over one-quarter of patients undergoing postnatal myelomeningocele repair experienced a complication within 30 days. The complication rate was significantly higher in patients who had surgical repair within the first 24 hours of birth than in patients who had surgery after the 1st day of life. The authors also highlight limitations of investigating myelomeningocele repair using NSQIP-P and advocate the importance of disease-specific data collection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)416-422
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2016


  • Congenital
  • Myelomeningocele
  • National Surgical Quality Improvement Program
  • Outcomes
  • Pediatric
  • Readmission
  • Spina bifida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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