How is spina bifida treated?
Treatment for occult
If your baby is born with spina bifida occulta, you may not find out about it until the baby has grown into a child and happens to receive an x-ray. Even then, some types of this condition are not found until adulthood. This can be a normal variant and does not usually cause any problems.
Treatment for meningocele
If your child has a meningocele, treatment could include surgery, which may be performed to remove the bulge. Tests before and after surgery could include x-rays, CT scan or an MRI. These babies typically grow up with no long-term health effects.
Treatment for myelomeningocele
If your baby has myelomeningocele, treatment will include surgery to repair the bulge and cover the exposed spinal cord and nerves. Prior to and following surgery, doctors at Children’s Hospital Colorado will test the baby’s response to different sensations to check for paralysis in different areas of the baby’s lower body. Additional tests could include x-rays, CT scans and an MRI. These types of tests may go on well after the baby is out of the hospital, and some will experience treatments and tests for the rest of their lives. Although surgery will not repair any nerve damage, the child is expected to live a long life.
A baby born with myelomeningocele and hydrocephalus may have to have a shunt inserted to carry the excess fluid “on the brain” down to the abdominal cavity, which will absorb the fluid. Most shunts are permanent. Babies who are born with myelomeningocele may have to have continued treatment as they get older. This may include treatment of bowel and bladder function, orthopedic treatment and physical therapy, as well as regular check-ups from his or her pediatrician for other problems. Problems that may occur as the child gets older could include developmental, neurological and physical delays.
Why choose Children’s Hospital Colorado for my child’s spina bifida?
At Children’s Colorado, patients with spina bifida are followed closely in a multi-specialty clinic. That means that an entire team of experts are committed to your child’s care, including rehab and physical medicine specialists, orthopedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, urologists and geneticists. We also work with physical therapists, orthotists, wheelchair vendors, psychologists and social workers – all in a single visit. This allows your child to get all his or her needs taken care of in one day.