Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida means ‘split spine’. This split is caused by a fault in the development of the spinal cord and surrounding bones which leaves a gap or a split in the spine. The spinal cord has not been formed properly and may be damaged.

There are three main types of Spina Bifida:

  1. Spina Bifida Cystica (cyst – like) – the visible signs are a sac or cyst, much like a large blister on the back, covered by a thin layer of skin.
  2. Spina Bifida Occulta (hidden form) – this is a mild form of spina bifida which is very common. For the vast majority of those that are affected, having spina bifida occulta is of no consequence whatsoever.
  3. Encephalocele – a sac is formed when the bones of the skull fail to develop. It may contain only cerebro -spinal fluid or part of the brain may also be present in the sac, resulting in brain damage.

Spina Bifida and bladder and bowel problems

Most people that have Spina Bifida will have bladder and bowel problems. Often the sensation and muscular control needed to remain continent and avoid other problems are impaired due to damage to the spinal cord. Reduced mobility and lack of access to appropriate toilet facilities can also contribute to the difficulties.

Problems people experience may include:

It is important to make an appointment with your doctor or continence nurse about your bladder and bowel problems and ensure that you can manage your symptoms successfully.

Further help

For further information and support please visit the Shine website – www.shinecharity.org.uk