What is Spina Bifida?
Spina Bifida is a birth defect of the spine where there is an incomplete closure of the vertebrae and spinal cord membranes. In the mildest form, spina bifida occulta, there may be a hairy patch, dimple, dark spot, or swelling over the defect site. In the severe form, myelomeningocele, there are spinal cord and spinal elements that herniate out of the defect.
In the US, spina bifida affects 0.4 per 1000 births
How is a Myelomeningocele Repaired?
A neurosurgeon is usually consulted for patients with myelomeningoceles. If the myelomeningocele is very large, then typically a plastic surgeon is also consulted to perform skin closure. The neurosurgeon will open up the herniated sac and carefully dissect the spinal cord elements free from the skin. Then the dura layer is repaired to encase the exposed spinal cord. To protect the spinal cord, a plastic surgeon will dissect muscle flaps from the back (erector spinae and/or gluteus maximus) and rotate them over the defect. Then, a tension free closure is performed on the skin.
Click on the link below to watch a short video on postoperative healing after spina bifida repair.