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Information for Parents

Neural tube Defect/Spina Bifida

  • What is this disease?

    • In this disease , baby's spine and spinal cord does not develop properly in the womb  leading to defects including a gap in the spine. It's not known what causes spina bifida, but a lack of folic acid before and in the early stages of pregnancy is a significant risk factor. It can present as spectrum of defects and child can have other system associated anomalies including renal, cardiac and hydrocephalus.

  • How it is diagnosed?

    • Meningocele/ meningomyelocele is diagnosed by clinical examination in newborn. Spina bifida occulta variety is usually diagnosed in older children by investigations including MRI. These children may have weakness of lower limbs and bladder and bowel incontinence. These conditions are now being diagnosed in Level II  Antenatal scan with increased regularity.

  • How it is treated?

    • Treatment is surgical.

  • When it should be operated?

    • The decision to operate will depend upon clinical condition at diagnosis. Mostly ,it needs to be operated on semi-urgent or urgent basis, if there is CSF leak from spinal defect. Skin covered lesions can be operated later, usually late neonatal period or in infancy.

  • Are there other alternative methods of treatment?

    • Surgery is only modality available for the defect. However, depending upon the associated problem,  child may need treatment for bladder/bowel problems, physiotherapy, hydrocephalus etc.

  • What all I need to know before my child surgery?

    • Read “All you need to know before your child's surgery” information booklet in website.

  • How is the surgery done?

    • During surgery, the spinal cord and any exposed tissues or nerves are dissected and placed back into the correct place. The gap in the spine is then closed (Dura closure) and the is covered with muscle and skin. The surgery only repairs the defect, but unfortunately it cannot reverse any nerve damage.

  • Remarks

    • For more details of surgery, contact your surgeon

  • Related Photographs and videos

    • Few photographs of surgical steps done by me  is given here for learning purposes

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