Spina bifida

Congenital condition of the spinal column. It arises in the fourth week of pregnancy because of deficient closure of the nerve tract, leading to incomplete development of one or more spinal arches, and incomplete vertebrae. The disorder is serious, and not uncommon. A soft swelling is visible at the defective point, usually only covered by spinal membrane (spina bifida aperta). If these membranes tear, the interior of the spinal column is revealed and the fluid exuded is cerebrospinal fluid. Understandably, normal development of the nervous system is affected, often resulting in paralysis of the legs, with associated incontinence; there may also be foot disorders (club feet) and other congenital abnormalities. Another possible complication is hydrocephalus.

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