BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:
Patients with spina bifida (SB) typically develop serious secondary conditions and undergo surgical procedures related to neurologic disorders, orthopedic abnormalities, bladder and bowel dysfunction, and skin breakdown. In this study, we describe the age distribution of common surgical procedures and health outcomes in patients with SB.
Using serial cross-sectional data from the National Spina Bifida Patient Registry (2009–2013; n = 4664), we examined surgical procedures (gastrointestinal, neurologic, orthopedic, skin, urologic, and other) and health outcomes (fecal continence, urinary continence, skin breakdown, and ambulation status) of patients with SB by age and SB type (myelomeningocele and nonmyelomeningocele).
All patients who were enrolled had available health outcome data, and 81.5% (n = 3801) of patients had complete surgical procedure data, which totaled 18 891 procedures across their lifetimes. Almost all procedures (91.4%) occurred among participants with myelomeningocele SB. For both types of SB, the distribution of procedures varied by age. The most frequent procedures were neurologic, with approximately half (53%) occurring in patients <1 year of age; orthopedic and urologic procedures followed in frequency but tended to occur at older ages. The health outcomes for patients with myelomeningocele SB revealed lower frequencies of positive health outcomes than those for patients with nonmyelomeningocele SB across all age groups. Overall, the rates of fecal and urinary continence and skin breakdown increased with age whereas the ability to ambulate declined with age.
Understanding the surgical procedures and health outcome variations by age and SB type can help clinicians and populations that are affected set expectations regarding the occurrence of these procedures and the outcomes throughout the patients’ life spans.