Spina Bifida

Pediatric Neurosurgery

Spina Bifida

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(608) 263-6420

(800) 323-8942


Health Information

Spina Bifida

Health Facts for You: Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida Care Newborn to Young Adult (pdf)

The Pediatric Spina Bifida Clinic at American Family Children's Hospital is for children and teenagers with spina bifida and their families. 
What is spina bifida?
Spina bifida is a congenital disease (present at birth) wherein a child's spinal canal and backbone do not close. In the most severe cases of spina bifida the spinal cord is open to the outside without covering by skin, muscle or bone, but this is not always the case. Some instances of spina bifida have little impact on a child's health.
Our clinic's goal is to help children with spina bifida achieve their fullest potential. For that reason, this clinic has been designed to include staff of various specialties to help both the child and her/his family.
Types of Spina Bifida
  • Occulta: Also known as hidden spina bifida, this type results in no opening in the child's back. The defects are small and the symptoms minimal, but neurological problems may develop as the child gets older.
  • Meningocele: Because of the spinal opening, a sac filled with cerebrospinal fluid forms.
  • Myelomeningocele: This is the most severe form of spina bifida, wherein meninges (the protective covering of the spinal cord) and spinal nerves come through the open part of the spine. Learn more about myelomeningocele
Spina Bifida Treatment
Treatment of spina bifida varies depending on its type and severity. Spina bifida occulta usually requires surgical repair in order to prevent the neurological deficits that can occur if it goes without treatment. It requires early detection and surgery.
Other forms of spina bifida - meningocele and myelomeningocele - may also require surgery to correct the defect. In less severe forms, a rehabilitation program may be the best treatment. 
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