Surgical treatment is needed to repair the defect and is usually done within 12 to 24 hours after birth to prevent infection, swelling, and further damage.
While the baby is deep asleep and pain-free (using general anesthesia), an incision is made in the sac and some of the excess fluid is drained off. The spinal cord is covered with the membranes (meninges) and the skin is closed over the protruding meninges, spinal cord, and nerves.
Update Date 2/27/2013
Updated by: Luc Jasmin, MD, PhD, Department of Neurosurgery, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles and Department of Anatomy, University of California, San Francisco, CA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.