Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Meningocele Types

There are three major types of spina bifida:

  • Spina bifida occulta
  • Meningocele
  • Myelomeningocele

Spina bifida occulta
This is the mildest and most common form of spina bifida. It is usually so mild it is often not noticed until it is seen on a routine x-ray of the back. In this case, the spinal cord is normal, but the vertebrae in one area of the spine are not formed correctly.

This is the next most severe form of spina bifida. In this instance, the vertebrae are malformed, forming a passageway for the lining of the spinal cord. The spinal cord lining protrudes through the opening, forming a bulge under the skin in the back. The bulge may not contain any nerve tissue. This is the least common form of spina bifida.

Also referred to as a meningomyelocele, this is the most severe form of spina bifida. It is similar to meningocele, but the spinal cord also protrudes through the passageway. In severe cases, the spinal cord may be entirely exposed to the outside. Those with myelomeningocele often have a spinal cord that is underdeveloped. For this reason, these children are usually paralyzed below the waist.

Continue to Meningocele Anatomy

Last Updated: Jan 5, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Meningocele References
  1. Barf HA, Verhoef M, Jennekens-Schinkel A, Post MW, Gooskens RH, Prevo AJ. Cognitive status of young adults with spina bifida. Dev Med Child Neurol. 2003 Dec;45(12):813-20. [14667073]
  2. Mitchell LE, Adzick NS, Melchionne J, Pasquariello PS, Sutton LN, Whitehead AS. Spina bifida. Lancet. 2004 Nov 20-26;364(9448):1885-95. [15555669]
  3. Rendeli C, Ausili E, Tabacco F, Caliandro P, Aprile I, Tonali P, Salvaggio E, Padua L. Assessment of health status in children with spina bifida. Spinal Cord. 2005 Apr;43(4):230-5. [15655570]
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