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Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a congenital defect that is present at the birth of a
child.It is caused by problems with early development of the spine with
the main defect being the failure of the closure of the vertebral column
that is the bony column that surrounds the spinal cord.Without this
closure, the spinal cord is not afforded the usual protection of the
vertebrae, and is left open to either mechanical injury or invasion by
However, spina bifida may be treated with utero surgery.While this
is a risky yet promising procedure, it appears to improve short-term
outcomes (Worcester, 2003).Dr. Joseph Bruner, professor of obstetrics and
gynecology at Vanderbilt, states that, “To date, more than 250 surgeries to
repair the lesions associated with spina bifida have been performed at
centers such as Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the University of
California, San Francisco, and Vanderbilt University.”In utero repair has
several advantages over postnatal surgery.They include potentially fewer
urinary infections, less gastrointestinal reflux, improved fetal leg
function and cognitive development, and less need for shunt placement with
The most reoccurring type of spina bifida is an opening in the spine
that appears in the body midline anywhere from the neck to the buttocks
area.This may be detected before birth and a pediatric surgeon may be
available to perform surgery upon birth.Since the spinal cord is not
developed properly, the defect may be much more subtle, and may, in fact,
be covered with skin, while in spinal rachischisis, the most severe form of
spina bifida, the entire length of the spine may be open.
The cause of spina bifida may be a combination of genetic factors
along with environmental influences that bring about malformation of the
spine and spinal column.While all of the reasons that contribute to the

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