Kyphectomy improves sitting and skin problems in patients with myelomeningocele

Sumeet Garg, Matthew Oetgen, Karl Rathjen, B. Stephens Richards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Background: Progressive kyphosis occurs in up to 20% of patients with myelomeningocele. Severely affected patients can develop recurrent skin breakdown, osteomyelitis, sitting imbalance, and poor cosmetic appearance. Questions/purposes: We (1) assessed the ability of kyphectomy to restore an intact skin envelope and allow comfortable seating in a wheelchair; (2) reviewed the complications of kyphectomy and spinal fusion in myelomeningocele; and (3) determined whether patients requiring unexpected reoperation had worse correction or more ulceration compared with those patients treated with a single surgery. Methods: We retrospectively reviewed the records of 23 children with thoracic-level myelomeningocele who were treated with kyphectomy and spinal fusion since 1980. Indications for surgery included recurrent skin breakdown (15 patients) and poor sitting balance or unacceptable cosmetic deformity (three patients). We evaluated operative technique, type of sacropelvic fixation, surgical complications, radiographic correction, and skin condition at followup. The minimum followup was 2 years (median, 4.1 years; range, 2.1-10 years); 18 of the 23 children had greater than 2 years followup and are reported here. Results: Kyphectomy achieved a sitting balance and resolved in skin ulceration in 17 of 18 patients. Seven patients had complications requiring reoperation. Three patients had multiple reoperations for early deep infection and one patient each had reoperation for late infection, pseudarthrosis, implant-related sacral pressure sore, and planned extension of proximal fusion after growth. Patients requiring multiple operations had similar correction and relief of ulceration to those treated with a single procedure. Conclusions: Complications after kyphectomy are frequent and many children with myelomeningocele and severe hyperkyphosis require multiple procedures and lengthy hospital stays. Nonetheless, improved seating balance and resolution of skin problems was achieved in 17 of 18 patients. Level of Evidence: Level IV, therapeutic study. See Guidelines for Authors for a complete description of levels of evidence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1279-1285
Number of pages7
JournalClinical orthopaedics and related research
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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