About the Condition
Spina bifida is a congenital defect of the neural tube(i), where the neural tube fails to develop or close properly, resulting in defects of the spinal cord and vertebrae. The severity of the defect depends on the size and location of defect, whether skin covers it and which spinal nerves come out of affected area and can be classified into three categories of Spina bifida.
The first two, Spina bifida occulta and Spina bifida meningocle are the mild forms of Spina bifida. Occulta does not involve damage to nerves so many people with this condition don’t know they have it.
Meningocle is the rarest form of Spina bifida that occurs when the meninges(ii) surrounding the spinal cord push out through openings in the vertebrae. The spinal cord still develops normally so the defect can be fixed with surgery with little to no damage to the nerves
(i) – The part of the embryo that develops into the brain and spinal cord and their surrounding tissues
(ii) – Protective membrane around the spinal cord
Mylomeningocle is the most severe form of Spina bifida and what is normally what the term “Spina bifida” colloquially refers to. In this form of Spina bifida, the spinal canal stays open along lower vertebrae, which causes both the spine and membrane to protrude at birth, forming a sac on the baby’s back.
Sometimes this protrusion is covered by skin but typically tissues and nerves are exposed making the baby easily susceptible to life threatening infections. This form commonly has neurological and physical impairments that go with it.