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Diseases

Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD)

Spina bifida


Other Names for this Disease
  • Spinal dysraphism
  • Cleft spine
  • Open spine
  • Rachischisis
  • Isolated spina bifida
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Overview

Spina bifida is a type of neural tube defect in which the bones of the spinal column do not close completely around the developing nerves of the spinal cord during the development of the embryo. As a result, part of the spinal cord may stick out through an opening in the spine, leading to permanent nerve damage. Children born with spina bifida often have a fluid-filled sac on their back covered by skin. If the sac contains part of the spinal cord and its protective covering, it is known as a myelomeningocele; if it does not, it is known as a meningocele. The signs and symptoms range from mild to severe (depending on the location and extent of spinal cord involvement) and can include a loss of feeling below the level of the opening; weakness or paralysis of the feet or legs; problems with bladder and bowel control; hydrocephalus; and learning problems. With surgery and other forms of treatment, many people with spina bifida live into adulthood. There is also a milder form of the condition called spina bifida occulta.[1]
Last updated: 5/9/2011

References

  1. Spina bifida. Genetics Home Reference. February 2011; http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/spina-bifida. Accessed 5/9/2011.
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Basic Information

In Depth Information

  • Medscape Reference provides information on this topic. You may need to register to view the medical textbook, but registration is free.
  • Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM) is a catalog of human genes and genetic disorders. Each entry has a summary of related medical articles. It is meant for health care professionals and researchers. OMIM is maintained by Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. 
  • Orphanet is a European reference portal for information on rare diseases and orphan drugs. Access to this database is free of charge.
  • PubMed is a searchable database of medical literature and lists journal articles that discuss Spina bifida. Click on the link to view a sample search on this topic.
Other Names for this Disease
  • Spinal dysraphism
  • Cleft spine
  • Open spine
  • Rachischisis
  • Isolated spina bifida
See Disclaimer regarding information on this site. Some links on this page may take you to organizations outside of the National Institutes of Health.