How do you treat spina bifida occulta?


Quick Answer

Spina bifida occulta typically doesn't require treatment as it doesn't cause symptoms, notes Drugs.com. Other more serious types of spina bifida may need surgery to shut the vertebral opening, maintain spinal cord function and lower the risk of infection. Doctors sometimes perform shunting to transfer extra fluid from the brain into the abdomen to manage hydrocephalus and decrease risks of complications associated with spina bifida.

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Full Answer

If a fetus suffers meningocele, surgeons usually perform a surgical procedure to return the meninges to their original positions and shut the vertebral opening, explains Mayo Clinic. If a fetus has myelomeningocele, doctors perform surgery 24 to 48 hours following birth.

Surgery involves putting the spinal cord and protruding tissue inside the body, using skin and muscle to cover them, and placing a shunt on the spinal cord, if necessary, states Mayo Clinic. Another type of surgery to treat spina bifida is prenatal surgery, which doctors perform when a mother is pregnant for less than 26 weeks. This surgery involves exposing the mother's uterus, opening the uterus, and fixing the baby's spinal cord.

After surgery, babies with myelomeningocele often need more operations and continuous care from doctors and therapists, because the condition involves irreparable nerve damage, according to Mayo Clinic. They undergo treatment for bladder and bowel issues and paralysis, and they also practice exercise routines that strengthen their legs in preparation for using braces or crutches.

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