International survey on the management of lumbosacral cutaneous stigmata in infants with suspected occult spinal dysraphism

Konstantina Svokos, Lígia Batista-Silverman, Sarah J. Graber, Brent R. O’Neill, Michael H. Handler

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4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE Occult spinal dysraphism (OSD) is a common pediatric neurosurgical diagnosis rife with controversy surrounding both the screening of asymptomatic infants and the threshold to offer a prophylactic detethering operation. The authors sought to clarify international practice patterns with a survey of pediatric neurosurgeons. METHODS A survey asked pediatric neurosurgeons whether they would perform imaging in patients with a variety of cutaneous stigmata associated with OSD and whether they would offer prophylactic detethering surgery for asymptomatic patients with a variety of imaging findings on the OSD spectrum. RESULTS Completed surveys were received from 141 pediatric neurosurgeons. Broad consensus was demonstrated on the need for obtaining images in sample patients with more severe stigmata ranging from large lipoma with a skin appendage to focal dysplastic skin in the lumbar midline. Ninety percent of respondents would perform MRI for these patients. In contrast, for patients with a low-sacral dimple, flat hemangioma, and symmetric (Y-shaped) splaying of the intergluteal cleft, opinion on the need for imaging varied considerably (between 57% and 89% recommended imaging). Respondents differed on the type of imaging that they would perform, with 31% to 38% recommending ultrasound screening. The responses reflected less consensus on when to offer surgery to patients with simple spinal tethering (low-lying conus medullaris and fatty filum terminale). Both a lower level of the conus and increased thickness of the filum terminale affected decision-making. CONCLUSIONS The results of this survey showed significant consensus on the recommendation for screening imaging in patients with more dramatic cutaneous stigmata, although these stigmata are the rarest. A significant variance in opinions was reflected in the recommendation for imaging of the most common cutaneous stigmata. Consensus was also lacking on which lesions deserve prophylactic detethering surgery. Significant equipoise exists for future study of screening imaging and of surgical decision-making in patients with asymptomatic OSD and associated cutaneous stigmata.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)592-599
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology

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