Spina bifida occulta is one of the numerous spinal defects to be present at birth. Caused from an inefficiency of folic acid during pregnancy, this condition results in a cleft spine. Forms of spina bifida occur in more than four million babies every year. Although spina bifida occulta is generally considered to be the mildest form of spina bifida, complications of spina bifida occulta can occur. Spina bifida occulta cord tethering is among the top complications to result from this condition. About one in every one thousand cases of spina bifida occulta will result in complications of the spinal defect.
Complications of Spina Bifida Occulta
Although they are rare, complications of spina bifida occulta are known to occur. There are actually two forms of spina bifida occulta; one form produces no complications and the second does. This makes proper treatment of the condition difficult. In most cases of this form of spina bifida the spine is spilt at only one vertebra. Complications of spina bifida occult arise when two or more vertebrae are split.
The obvious sign of this form of the spinal abnormality is a visible dimple of sinus at the top of the buttocks. A tuff of hair may be present in the area as well. Spinal defects of this type are more common to lead to complications.
Common complications of spina bifida occulta include foot deformities, reduced sensation in the legs, and leg weakness. Complications with bladder and bowel functions can occur, as well as hand functioning abilities.
Severe complication of spina bifida occulta result when the spinal cord is tethered. Spina bifida occulta cord tethering produces complications during growth spurts as an adolescent. This causes the spinal cord to stretch, resulting in a progression of symptoms. Back pain, leg pain, and increased weakness of the legs are likely to occur during a growth spurt with a tethered cord. Bladder and bowel function can decrease during this time as well.
To correct spina bifida cord tethering and other spinal defects associated with the condition, an MRI is conducted to evaluate the area for surgery. Typically, surgery will correct the cord tether and relieve much of the symptoms with a small failure rate of only 5%. However, even after surgery the spinal cord can reattach to the vertebrae, causing the symptoms to reoccur. Surgery is then needed again to continue to fix the complications.
“Spina Bifida Occulta”
“Spina Bifida Fact Sheet”