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Spina Bifida

Clinical Manifestations

The classic defect of spina bifida is an opening in the spine, obvious at birth, with a protruding a fluid-filled An infant with spina bifida. Biophoto Associates, National Audubon Society Collection/Photo Researchers, Inc. Reproduced by permission. sac, including either the meninges (the membranes which cover the spinal cord) or some part of the actual spinal cord. Often, the spinal cord itself does not develop properly. In spina bifida occulta, a variation of spina bifida where the defect may be much more subtle, and may, in fact, be covered with skin, while in another variation called rachischisis, the entire length of the spine may be open.

The problems caused by spina bifida depend on a number of factors, including where along the spine the defect occurs, other associated defects, and the degree of disorganization of the spinal cord. Certainly, the most severe types of spina bifida (rachischisis) often result in death, either by virtue of greatly increased risk of infection (meningitis) due to the exposed meninges, or due to the extreme compromise in spinal cord function.

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Spectroscopy to Stoma (pl. stomata)Spina Bifida - Clinical Manifestations, Complications Associated With Spina Bifida, Treatment, Prevention - Diagnosis