All babies with a lipomyelomeningocele need surgery to fix the problem. About two in 10 children who have had a lipomyelomeningocele repair develop a tethered cord as they grow and need further surgeries.
If the fatty mass is not removed and the spinal cord remains tethered, your child will develop neurological damage over time. Slowly, the child loses sensory and movement abilities, also called motor function. They may lose the ability to walk. Bladder and bowel function may get worse or be lost. These changes may be permanent.
Lipomyelomeningocele Treatment Options
Most often, babies treated at Seattle Children's have lipomyelomeningocele repair when they are 4 to 8 months old.
Your child's neurosurgeon begins with an operation called a laminectomy. Neurosurgeons remove parts of some bones in the spine (vertebrae). This lets the neurosurgeon get to the spinal cord or spinal nerve roots that need repair.
Next neurosurgeons remove some of the fatty mass and free up the spinal cord. Finally, they close the hole where the fatty mass enters your baby’s spinal canal.