Hydrocephalus status in spina bifida: An evaluation of variations in neuropsychological outcomes - Clinical article

Lyla E. Hampton, Jack M. Fletcher, Paul T. Cirino, Susan Blase, Larry A. Kramer, James Drake, Mauree N. Dennis

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Object. The effect of hydrocephalus status on neuropsychological outcomes in children with spina bifida (SB) has not been carefully evaluated. The authors hypothesized a stepwise progression of outcomes related to hydrocephalus status (shunt-treated, arrested, or no hydrocephalus) and that motor, spatial, and executive function tasks would be more sensitive to hydrocephalus status than vocabulary and reading tasks. Methods. Two hundred eight children (mean age 11.2 years) with SB were grouped according to hydrocephalus status: shunt-treated hydrocephalus (166 children), arrested hydrocephalus (18 children), and no hydrocephalus (24 children). Sixty-one typically developing children were included as a control group (mean age 12.05 years). All children were tested across neuropsychological content domains, including verbal and nonverbal IQ, reading and mathematical achievement, explicit memory, visuospatial function, executive function, and motor skills. Results. There was a stepwise progression of outcomes. Averaging across tasks, performance scores of children with SB and no hydrocephalus (mean standard score 92.60) were higher than those of children with SB and arrested hydrocephalus (mean standard score 86.86), and scores of children in the latter group were higher than those of children with SB and shunt-treated hydrocephalus (mean standard score 82.30). All 3 groups scored lower than the control group (mean standard score 105.94). Fine motor tasks best differentiated the arrested-hydrocephalus and shunt-treated groups. Verbal and executive function tasks, often associated with socioeconomic status, best differentiated the group of children with SB and no hydrocephalus from the control group. Conclusions. With the exception of fine motor skills and small differences in memory and spatial domains, children with SB and arrested or shunt-treated hydrocephalus have similar neuropsychological profiles. Performance of all 3 groups of children with SB was below that of the control group, which also reflects the lower socioeconomic status of the children with SB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)289-298
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


  • Hydrocephalus
  • Intelligence
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Meningomyelocele
  • Neuropsychology
  • Spina bifida


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