A not uncommon congenital defect in which a vertebra is malformed; unless several vertebrae are affected or there is myelomeningocele there are few symptoms; can be diagnosed by amniocentesis; SYN. schistorrhachis.
Congenital defect in which part of the spinal cord and its membranes are exposed, due to incomplete development of the spine (vertebral column). It is a neural tube defect.
Spina bifida, usually present in the lower back, varies in severity. The most seriously affected babies may be paralyzed below the waist. There is also a risk of mental retardation and death from hydrocephalus, which is often associated. Surgery is performed to close the spinal lesion shortly after birth, but this does not usually cure the disabilities caused by the condition. Spina bifida can be diagnosed prenatally.