WHAT IS SPINA BIFIDA?

Spina Bifida is a neural tube defect that happens in the first month of pregnancy when the spinal column doesn’t close completely. It is the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States; however, the effects of Spina Bifida are different for every person.

 

An estimated 166,000 people in the United States currently live with Spina Bifida.

 

An average of eight (8) babies are born with Spina Bifida or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine each day. With the right care, babies born with Spina Bifida will grow up to reach their full potential.

 

There are over 60 million women at risk of having a baby born with Spina Bifida.

 

 

TYPES OF SPINA BIFIDA


Occulta

Often called hidden Spina Bifida, the spinal cord and the nerves are usually normal and there is no opening on the back. In this relatively harmless form of Spina Bifida, there is a small defect or gap in a few of the small bones (vertebrae) that make up the spine.

 

There may be no motor or sensory impairments evident at birth. Subtle, progressive neurologic deterioration often becomes evident in later childhood or adulthood. In many instances, Spina Bifida Occulta is so mild that there is no disturbance of spinal function at all. Occulta can be diagnosed at any age.

 

Meningocele

The protective coatings (meninges) come through the open part of the spine like a sac that is pushed out. Cerebrospinal fluid is in the sac and there is usually no nerve damage. Individuals may suffer minor disabilities. Additional problems can develop later in life.

 

Myelomeningocele

This form of Spina Bifida occurs when the meninges (protective covering of the spinal cord) and spinal nerves come through the open part of the spine. This is the most serious type of Spina Bifida, which causes nerve damage and more severe disabilities.

 

Lipomyelomeningocele

This is a congenital lesion that is associated with Spina Bifida (congenital failure of closure of the spinal bones). This is associated with abnormal fat accumulation that starts below the level of the skin and extends through the bony opening to the spinal cord. The lesion itself is composed of a descended conus medullaris infiltrated by fat, which continues out of a dural, bony, and fascial defect to emerge as a skin-covered subcutaneous mass that is usually found in the lumbosacral region. An intramedullary lipoma is a lipoma of the conus medullaris that does not extend outside the dura. Click here for more information.

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