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.
Review Date 2/16/2017
Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.