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Spina Bifida is the most common congenital spine abnormality. It occurs in several different forms that range from mild to severe. Myelomeningocele is the most severe form of spina bifida, which happens when the spinal cord does not fuse together properly during fetal development. Children born with this type of spina bifida undergo surgery shortly after birth and require ongoing care throughout their lives.
In less severe forms of spina bifida, the skin over the spine is closed, but the spinal cord may be tethered to the bottom of the spinal canal. These "tethers" usually are caused by a benign fatty mass (lipomyelomeningocele) in the spine, which can connect to the skin or by a thickening or loss of elasticity in the filum terminale — the thin and usually elastic cord that connects the bottom of the spinal cord to the bottom of the spine. Symptoms may include back pain, leg pain, leg weakness, club foot, bladder and bowel problems (including the inability to toilet train), balance difficulties and inability to walk, among others.
We offer coordinated, multispecialty inpatient and outpatient care for children and adults with spina bifida and tethered cord syndrome. In our outpatient clinics, our team includes neurosurgeons, neurologists, pediatricians, urologists and orthopaedic surgeons. They monitor each child from his or her first days of life into adulthood. The team provides care for existing spina bifida problems and helps children avoid new complications as they grow older.