One major problem for patients with myelomeningocele (MMC) is fecal incontinence. To prevent this problem, fetal surgery for repair of MMC has been recently undertaken. The strategy behind this surgery is to allow normal development of anal sphincter muscles. The purpose of this study was to determine whether fetal surgery for repair of MMC allows normal development of anal sphincter muscles. Myelomeningocele was surgically created in fetal sheep at 75 days of gestation. At 100 days of gestation, fetal surgery for repair of the MMC lesion was performed. Three repair methods were used: standard neurosurgical repair (4 fetal sheep), covering the MMC lesion with Alloderm (2 fetal sheep), and covering the MMC lesion with Gore-Tex (2 fetal sheep). After the sheep were delivered (140 days of gestation), external and internal anal sphincter muscles were analyzed histopathologically. In control fetal sheep (not repaired) anal sphincter muscles did not develop normally. In contrast, in fetal sheep that underwent repair of the MMC, the external and internal anal sphincter muscles developed normally. Histopathologically, in the external sphincter muscles, muscle fibers were dense. In the internal sphincter muscles, endomysial spaces were small, myofibrils were numerous, and fascicular units were larger than those in unrepaired fetal sheep. There was no difference in muscle development for the repair methods. Fetal surgery for repair of MMC allows normal development of anal sphincter muscles.
- Anal sphincter muscle
- Fetal surgery
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health