Spina Bifida Surgery (Split Cord)

Spina Bifida Surgery

Spina bifida means ‘defect in spine and spinal cord’ and is present in babies at birth. Spina bifida is a type of neural tube defect. Normally neural tube forms brain, spinal cord and layers around them in a developing baby in uterus. Broadly, there are 2 types; spina bifida occulta and spina bifida apertura.

Spina bifida occulta means hidden typeand is generally the most silent and least severe form which is characterized by a small gap in the back part of the developing vertebrae. Most cases of spina bifida pcculta is diagnosed incidentally during a MR or CT scan done for unrelated complaints.

Spina bifida apertura is the open form and the most severe type is myelomeningocele in which spinal cord is exposed along the underdeveloped vertebral canal and surrounding soft tissues resulting in a sac at the back of the babies. Myelomeningocele is generally associated with severe weakness in the legs (paraplegia, severe paraparesis) and urgent surgical intervention is of utmost importance to prevent the life-threatining infections and worsening of lower extremity weakness.

In meningocele-unlike myelomeningocele- there is only liquid (brain-spinal cord fluid, CSF) in the sac without a neural tissue, babies with meningocele carry a much better prognosis than those of myelomeningocele but they may have some mild problems in bladder and bowel functions.