Difference between meningocele and myelomeningocele

Meningocele is a form of spina bifida in which a meningeal sac of cerebrospinal fluid protrudes through the skull while meningomyelocele is a congenital defect of the central nervous system of infants in which membranes and the spinal cord protrude through an opening or defect in the vertebral column. Let us have a deep insight into the difference between meningocele and myelomeningocele in this article.


What is Meningocele?

Meningocele is a type of spina bifida cystica characterized by the herniation of meninges through an abnormal opening in the backbone.


What is Myelomeningocele?

Myelomeningocele is a type of spina bifida cystica characterized by the herniation of spinal cord contents and meninges through an abnormal defect in the backbone.

Difference between Meningocele and Myelomeningocele : 

  • Meningocele occurs very rarely at the rate of one per 5000 live births worldwide whereas myelomeningocele can affect as many as 1 out of every 800 babies. 
  • Meningocele is present both along the spinal cord and skull while myelomeningocele is only present along the spinal cord. 
  • The posterior midline of the skull and the lumbosacral area is the most common location of meningocele and the lumbosacral area is the most common location of myelomeningocele. 
  • An investigation carried out to diagnose meningocele X-rays and MRI of the spine and skull MRI of the spine and skull whereas An investigation carried out to diagnose myelomeningocele X-rays and MRI of the spine only.
  • The screening test carried out to diagnose is the same in both cases such as Quadruple or Triple screen, Ultrasonography, Serum Alpha-Fetoprotein levels, and Amniocentesis.
  • The treatment for meningocele is surgical repair which can be carried out before or after the delivery of the baby while the surgical repair is the treatment of choice for myelomeningocele. 
  • Prenatal surgical options to treat is the same for both cases such as Open prenatal fetal surgery and Minimal invasive surgery. 
Now we can see the different types, clinical features with a comparison with both of them.

Types of meningocele : 

  • Frontoethmoidal meningocele
  • Nasofrontal meningocele
  • Sacral meningocele
  • Occipital meningocele
  • Nassorbital meningocele
  • Thoracic meningocele
  • Lumber meningocele
  • Encephalomeningocele

Type of myelomeningocele : 

  • Lumber myelomeningocele
  • Thoracic myelomeningocele
  • Lateral myelomeningocele
  • Anterior myelomeningocele
  • Sacral myelomeningocele
  • Posterior myelomeningocele

Clinical features of meningocele : 

  • Vision problem 
  • Seizures
  • A spastic weakness of all four limbs
  • Development of hydrocephalus characterized by headache, vomiting, urinary incontinence, macrocephaly
  • Uncoordinated muscle movements
  • Mental and growth retardation 
  • Delayed developmental milestones

Clinical features of myelomeningocele : 

  • Urinary retention 
  • Constipation 
  • Diarrhea
  • Scoliosis 
  • Hydrocephalus in 90% case
  • Poor coordination in walking 
  • Paralysis of lower limbs
  • Numbness of lower limbs
  • Urinary urgency and incontinence
  • An allergy to latex
  • Pain and heaviness in lower limbs
  • Loss of sensation in the perianal and genital area