Myelomeningocele, also known as spina bifida cystica, is a complex congenital spinal anomaly that results in spinal cord malformation (myelodysplasia). 

It is one of the commonest congenital CNS anomalies and thought to occur in approximately 1:500 of live births 5. There may be a slight female predilection.

Patients present with a lower limb paralysis and sensory loss, bladder and bowel dysfunction as well as cognitive impairment.

Results from failure of fusion of neural tube dorsally during embryogenesis. 

There is a localized defect of the closure of caudal neuropore with persistence of neural placode (open spinal cord).

  • lumbosacral: ~45%
  • thoracolumbar: ~30% 
  • lumbar: ~20%
  • cervical: ~2% 
  • may show evidence of an open neural tube defect with splayed or divergent posterior elements

Article information

rID: 5791
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Meningomyelocoele
  • Meningomyelocoele
  • Myelomeningocoeles
  • Myelomeningoceles
  • Meningomyelocoeles
  • Meningomyeloceles

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Case 1: associated Chiari II
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 2
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 3
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 4: on antenatal ultrasound
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 5
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 6
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 7: on post natal ultrasound
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Case 8: upper dorsal myelomeningocele
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.