Prenatal ultrasound evaluation of segmental level of neurological lesion in fetuses with myelomeningocele: Development of a new technique

E. Carreras, A. Maroto, T. Illescas, M. Meléndez, S. Arévalo, J. L. Peirõ, C. G. García-Fontecha, M. Belfort, A. Cuxart

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30 Citations (Scopus)


© 2015 ISUOG. Published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. Objectives To report our preliminary experience in the use of prenatal ultrasound examination to assess lower-limb movements in fetuses with myelomeningocele. We aimed to determine the accuracy of this method to establish the segmental level of neurological lesion, as this is the best known predictor of the future ability to walk. Methods This was a preliminary, observational study including fetuses with myelomeningocele operated on prenatally. The patterns of movements present and absent in the affected fetuses' lower limbs were evaluated systematically by ultrasound examination. According to the known nerve function associated with each muscle group, the segmental level of neurological lesion was established before birth. The agreement for the segmental levels assigned, between the prenatal ultrasound technique and the classical neurological clinical examination after birth (gold standard), was tested using the weighed kappa (wκ) index. Results Seventy-one fetuses with myelomeningocele were evaluated at the Hospital Universitari Vall d'Hebron. After counseling, the parents opted for prenatal surgery (26 cases), termination of pregnancy (43 cases) or postnatal repair (two cases). Five patients did not fulfil the inclusion criteria for prenatal surgery and three were excluded after birth. In the 18 fetuses that underwent surgery and were analyzed, the agreement between prenatal and postnatal segmental levels assigned was 91.7% for the right limb (wκ = 0.80) and 88.9% for the left limb (wκ = 0.73). Conclusions The agreement found between prenatal and postnatal assignment of level of lesion in this preliminary study suggests that neurological sonographic evaluation is feasible before birth. This may provide accurate individualized information about the motor function and future ambulation prognosis of fetuses with myelomeningocele.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)162-167
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


  • fetal surgery
  • myelomeningocele
  • neurological examination
  • prenatal ultrasonography


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