Spina bifida occulta

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Spina Bifida Occulta

Common, 17% of people whose spines have been examined have spina bifida occulta. These patients have a very slightly increased chance of a slipped disc, but very few people with spina bifida occulta will ever have any problems because of it. If a person has no symptoms from spina bifida occulta as a child, then it is unlikely that they will have any as an adult.

However, for some people (about 2 per cent of those who have spina bifida occulta) there can be other problems. These problems arise because there are other things involved around the area where the vertebra has not formed properly.

  • Distortion of the spinal cord and/or the nerve roots coming from the spine by fibrous bands or adhesions.
  • Fatty tumours in the spine, under the skin or in surrounding tissues.
  • Cysts in the skin or just under it.
  • Cysts filled with cerebrospinal fluid in the spine (syrinxes).
  • Divisions in the spinal cord.
  • Spinal cord tethered or held down at the site (unable to move freely in the spinal canal).

Normally the cord terminates at L1-2 and completes migration in early fetal life.

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