Medical problems in adolescents with myelomeningocele (MMC): an inventory of the Swedish MMC population born during 1986–1989

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Abstract

Aim

To describe the prevalence of myelomeningocele (MMC) and the medical needs of adolescents, 15–18 years, with MMC in Sweden, at a time when they are on the threshold of adulthood, leaving paediatrics.

Methods

In a retrospective study, we identified all adolescents with MMC, born during 1986–1989 and living in Sweden on July 1, 2004. An inventory was agreed upon with questions concerning their medical problems and need for medical care.

Results

There were 175 persons 15–18 years of age, born with MMC or lipoMMC (prevalence 3.8 per 10 000). Hydrocephalus was seen in 86%, 31% had been operated because of tethered cord syndrome, and 6% for Chiari malformation symptoms. The majority had motor impairments. Clean intermittent catheterisation for bladder emptying was used by 85%, and 59% used enemas on a regular basis because of the neurogenic bowel dysfunction. Renal dysfunction was seen in 1.7% of the adolescents.

Conclusion

Lifelong follow-up by many specialists, among others neurologists and neurosurgeons, urotherapists and urologists, orthopaedic surgeons and orthotists, is necessary for individuals with MMC. The complex medical situation, often in combination with cognitive difficulties, makes it necessary to coordinate medical services for this increasing group of adults with multiple impairments.

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