Spina bifida is a severe birth defect that occurs when the tissues or muscles around the developing spinal cord of a fetus fails to close in the right manner. A number of vertebrae covering the spinal cord in this case remain open and not fused as they are not fully formed. As a result, spina bifida is considered a serious birth defect, and is a part of a group of defects that are commonly referred to as neural tube defects. These defects affect the embryonic structure that ultimately develops into the baby’s brain, spinal cord and the tissues surrounding it. The resultant defect is a massive amount of issues that negatively affect the spirit, body and mind. As a result, no two cases of spin bifida are ever the same.
Under normal circumstances, the neural tube that forms in developing babies in the first few weeks of a pregnancy close by the twenty eighth day after conception. The top end of this tubing later develops into the baby’s brain. The remaining part of the tubing develops into the baby’s spinal cord. In cases of spina bifida, the section along the lower end of the neural tube fails to close or develop in the right manner. The result is a defect in the spinal cord and also in the bones that form the vertebrae or backbone. This defect can also occur in the upper or middle end of the spinal cord, though it is quite uncommon. That being said, here are the four main categories of spina bifida malformations.
This is the most common and serious form of spina bifida. Here, the unclosed section of the spinal column lets the spinal cord to stick out through a gap. The meningeal membrane covering the spinal cord then forms a sac that surrounds the spinal elements. In spina bifida cystic (spina bifida with myeloschisis) the involved section is represented by a flattened plate-like mass of nerve tissues but that have no surrounding membrane. This exposure of tissues and nerves leaves the baby exposed to many life-threatening infections.
In this form of spina bifida, the protruding section of the nerves and spinal cord that start at the same level of the cord are improperly developed or absolutely damaged. The result is some degree of loss of sensation and paralysis just below the level of the spinal cord defect. Patients with this form of spina bifida have feet or knees or hips deformities, loss of muscle tone, loss of sensation and ambulatory issues. Depending on the severity and location of the lesions, patients might experience intense pain in the lower back continuing all the way down to the back of the knee.
In this form of spina bifida, the outer faces of a number of vertebrae lay open. The meninges in this case are completely damaged and pushed out through the opening. They appear as a cyst or sac containing cerebrospinal fluid. In this case, the normal functioning of the nerves and spinal cord are affected.
Spina bifida cystica
This is a serious form of spian bifida, and is characterized by unclosed section of the spinal column allowing the spinal cord to protrude through an opening in the surrounding vertebrae.
Spina bifida occulta
With this form of spinal bifida, there is no opening of the back. However, the outer surfaces of a number of vertebrae are incompletely closed. Fortunately, this split is so small that the spinal cord does not protrude. The majority of people with this kind of spina bifida are not aware they have it.
Although there are no known cures for spina bifida since the nerve tissue can’t be repaired or replaced, experts in spinal bifida therapy in Toronto recommend treatments such as physiotherapy, medication and surgery to make patient as comfortable as possible. Patients also need assistive appliances such as wheelchairs, crutches, braces and the likes. Continuing therapy, surgical treatments and medical care is also necessary to help manage and prevent further complications throughout a patient’s life.