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Cauda-Equina, spine doctor, spine surgery
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Spina Bifida: An Overview and Treatment Options

spine surgeon, spine doctor

Spina Bifida is a congenital defect that happens due to the incorrect formation of the bones that surround the spinal cord. The condition occurs within the first month of pregnancy, can be found in any section of the vertebral column, and is present in seven out of every 10,000 live births. 70,000 people in the United States have Spina Bifida, which is more common in girls and the Hispanic ethnicity. The cause of Sina Bifida is unknown, and there is no cure.

There are three types of Spina Bifida. Occulta is mild and has one or more vertebrae open in the rear. It may show up as a dimple, birthmark, or hairy patch on the back and has no associated symptoms.   Meningocele is moderate and is visible as a bulge in the skin where fluid has leaked out of the spine and pooled. Myelomeningocele is severe, with both the spinal cord covering and the spinal nerves protruding through a gap in the spine. Myelomeningocele results in significant nerve damage and extreme disability.

Common complications of spina bifida usually only appear in Myelomeningocele and include:

  • Scoliosis
  • Kyphosis
  • Clubfoot
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Partial or complete paralysis
  • Bladder or bowel issues
  • Skin problems
  • Learning disabilities
  • Chiara Malformation
  • Spinal cord tethering

Women are at risk for bearing a child with Spina Bifida if there is a genetic history of the disease, have insulin-dependent diabetes, are obese, use certain types of medication, or have had higher than normal body temperatures during pregnancy.


Spina Bifida is diagnosed using blood tests and ultrasound imaging before birth. If testing appears positive, amniocentesis can be performed.  X-ray, CT scanning, and MRI are used to detect the disease after birth.

Treatment for Spina Bifida depends on severity. Infants with Myelomeningocele need surgery within 24 hours of birth and may require future procedures to correct other deformities. In Meningocele, once the growth that extends from the spinal opening is removed, there are generally not any further issues. Physical and Occupational therapy may be necessary, depending on the child’s level of disability.


If you suffer from congenital back problems and would like to find out if you are a candidate for the treatment options we offer, please call us at either our New Braunfels or Seguin offices.

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