The Use of Neuropsychological Data to Detect Altered Neurological Functioning in a Child with Myelomeningocele

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ABSTRACT. Although children with myelomeningocele often display atypical patterns on psychometric testing, this case study demonstrates the sensitivity of neuropsychological instruments to detect altered neurological functioning in a patient with spina bifida. The subject had a history of myelomeningocele at the lumbosacral level and placement of a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. During a routine neuropsychological evaluation, a 44-point discrepancy between his verbal (verbal IQ = 98) and nonverbal abilities (performance IQ = 54) on the Wechsler Intelligence for Children-Revised was found. In comparison to high average academic achievement, test findings suggested depressed memory skills and extreme slowing in psychomotor speed. A pattern of acute decline in overall cognitive functioning was suggested. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a left frontoparietal brain mass, which was surgically removed. Follow-up neuropsychological testing 9 months postsurgery indicated an increase in nonverbal intelligence with improved psychomotor speed and information processing. This case study illustrates the importance of obtaining baseline evaluations in this neurologically high-risk population as well as the clinical usefulness of psychometric data in diagnostic workups. J Dev Behav Pediatr 14:401–404, 1993. Index terms: myelomeningocele, neuropsychological functioning, children, spina bifida.

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