Meningocele vs. Meningomyelocele: Know the Difference
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Meningocele involves a sac of spinal fluid and meninges protruding through a spinal defect, while Meningomyelocele includes spinal cord/nerves in the sac.
Meningocele is a type of spinal defect where a sac containing spinal fluid and meninges (but not the spinal cord) protrudes through a gap in the vertebrae. Meningomyelocele, a more severe form, involves the protrusion of the spinal cord and/or nerve tissues within the sac.
In Meningocele, the protruding sac does not contain neural elements, making it generally less severe than Meningomyelocele, where the sac contains parts of the spinal cord and/or nerve tissue, leading to more significant potential neurological impairments.
Meningocele might not always present with significant symptoms initially and can be sometimes identified only through imaging, whereas Meningomyelocele typically presents with more noticeable neurological deficits at birth due to the involvement of spinal cord/nerves.
Surgical interventions for Meningocele primarily focus on repairing the protruding sac and preventing infection. In contrast, Meningomyelocele surgeries are more complex due to the involvement of the spinal cord and nerves, aiming to minimize nerve damage and manage associated conditions.
Meningocele’s impact on a patient’s mobility and neurological function is usually less severe compared to Meningomyelocele, where the risk of complications like paralysis or bladder and bowel dysfunction is higher.
Protrusion of a sac with spinal fluid and meninges.
Protrusion of a sac containing parts of the spinal cord/nerves.
Generally less severe.
More severe, with greater risk of neurological deficits.
May not present significant symptoms initially.
Typically shows noticeable neurological impairments.
Focuses on repairing the sac, less complex.
More complex, aiming to minimize nerve damage.
Impact on Neurological Function
Usually less severe impact on function.
Higher risk of paralysis and bladder/bowel dysfunction.
Meningocele and Meningomyelocele Definitions
A spinal condition characterized by a protruding sac without neural elements.
Surgery was successful in treating the newborn's meningocele.
A birth defect where part of the spinal cord is exposed through the spine.
Meningomyelocele often results in significant neurological impairments.
A type of spina bifida where a sac of fluid protrudes through the spine.
The ultrasound revealed a meningocele in the baby's lower spine.
A severe form of spina bifida with spinal cord/nerves in the sac.
The baby diagnosed with meningocele actually had meningocele.
A protrusion of meninges and spinal fluid through a spinal gap.
Treatment for meningocele usually involves surgical intervention.
A condition with spinal cord and nerves herniating through the spine.
Children with meningocele require careful neurological assessment.
A birth defect involving a sac of fluid from the spinal canal.
Meningocele is typically diagnosed through prenatal imaging.
Spinal cord/nerves protrude through a gap in the vertebrae.
Meningocele's severity is greater due to spinal cord involvement.
A condition where meninges herniate through a vertebral defect.
Despite having a meningocele, the child showed no neurological symptoms.
Protrusion of spinal cord and nerves through a spinal defect.
Meningocele surgery is complicated due to the involvement of the spinal cord.
A moderately severe form of spina bifida in which the meninges protrude, causing a bulge under the skin.
(medicine) A congenital defect of the central nervous system of infants in which membranes and the spinal cord protrude through an opening or defect in the vertebral column.
(pathology) A form of spina bifida in which a meningeal sac of cerebrospinal fluid protrudes through the skull.
A congenital anomaly of the central nervous system in which a sac protruding from the brain or the spinal meninges contains cerebrospinal fluid (but no nerve tissue)
Repeatedly Asked Queries
What is Meningomyelocele?
A severe form of spina bifida where the spinal cord/nerves are in the protruding sac.
What are the symptoms of Meningomyelocele?
Includes significant neurological impairments like muscle weakness or paralysis.
What is Meningocele?
A spinal defect with a sac of spinal fluid and meninges protruding through the spine.
What are the symptoms of Meningocele?
Can range from no symptoms to minor physical issues, depending on the case.
How is Meningomyelocele treated?
Requires more complex surgery to minimize nerve damage.
Can Meningocele cause neurological problems?
It can, but generally less severe than Meningomyelocele.
Can Meningomyelocele lead to paralysis?
Yes, there is a higher risk of paralysis or other serious neurological issues.
What causes Meningomyelocele?
Results from a more significant developmental defect in the spinal region.
How are Meningocele and Meningomyelocele diagnosed?
Typically diagnosed through prenatal imaging like ultrasound or MRI.
Is Meningocele a type of spina bifida?
Yes, it's a form of spina bifida.
Is Meningomyelocele a type of spina bifida?
Yes, it's a severe form of spina bifida.
Can Meningocele be detected before birth?
Yes, it can be detected through prenatal imaging.
How is Meningocele treated?
Usually treated with surgery to repair the protruding sac.
Can Meningomyelocele be detected before birth?
Yes, typically identified via prenatal imaging techniques.
What is the long-term outlook for Meningomyelocele?
Depends on the severity, but often involves lifelong management of symptoms.
Are there developmental concerns with Meningocele?
Possible, but less severe than with Meningomyelocele.
What causes Meningocele?
Caused by a developmental defect during early pregnancy.
Can Meningocele be prevented?
Risk can be reduced with proper prenatal care and nutrition, like folic acid intake.
Can Meningomyelocele be prevented?
While not entirely preventable, risks can be minimized with prenatal care.
What is the long-term outlook for Meningocele?
Varies, but many individuals lead normal lives with proper treatment.
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Written byShumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.