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Are there different types of spina bifida?

Depending on the location along the spine and the amount of protrusion of meninges and spinal cord, different types of spina bifida are formed. The mildest form of spina bifida is known as occulta. People with occulta have part of the vertebrae that are not closed completely, but do not have an opening on the back. The moderate form of spina bifida is known as meningocele. This occurs when the meninges, the protective cover of the spinal cord, are pushed through the opening of the vertebrae to form a sac filled with cerebrospinal fluid. The most severe form of spina bifida is known as myelomeningocele. This condition occurs when both the meninges and the spinal cord protrude out of the vertebrae. This can cause the spinal cord to develop incorrectly, leading to spinal nerve damage. This condition can lead to paralysis, incontinence problems and orthopedic problems including scoliosis. In some cases, tissues and nerves are exposed, which can lead to infections that may be life-threatening.

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About this article

Author: Dr Idan Ben-Barak PhD, MSc, BSc (Med)
First answered: 07 Oct 2014
Last reviewed: 19 May 2018
Rating: 5.0 out of 5
Votes: 1539 (Click smiley face below to rate)
Category: Fetal alcohol syndrome

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