What Is The Difference Between A Myelomeningocele, And A Meningomyelocele.?


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Spina Bifida is known as one of the most common birth defects and myelomengingocele is a term for Spina Bifida Cystica. The incidence of Spina Bifida averages 1-2 cases in 1000 births. In the United States the incidence of Spina Bifida is (0.7-1000) live births. There is a higher incidence of this birth defect on the east Coast than on the West Coast. The incidence is higher in the white population at the rate of (1per 1000) live births and among African Americans is (0.1-0.4 per 1000) live births.

Spina Bifida Cystica/Myelomeningocele is the most serious form of this birth defect. The spinal cord does not fuse together during the growth of the fetus, this results in the spinal cord protruding through an opening in the vertebrae. The menigeal membranes, which cover the spinal cord sometimes form a sac that encircles the spinal elements.The appearance of this sac is that of a cyst protruding from the infant's back. In some cases the unfused elements within the sac can be closed surgically shortly after birth.

When the incomplete fusion of the spinal cord, and the nerves originating at the level of the spinal cord are damaged, or under-developed; the result is partial paralysis below the spinal cord defect. Problems with bowel and bladder control are often associated with the nerve dysfunction and paralysis. Normally, there is also an abnormality in the back portion of the brain, the cerebellum, which is displaced from the back of skull into the upper neck. This abnormality causes an excess of fluid within the ventricles of the brian and interfers with normal flow of cerebro-spinal fluid. This results in Hydrocephalus, giving the appearance of an enlarged skull. The existence of the the scarring caused by surgery or the myelomeningocele often leads to spinal tether (stress on the spinal cord) this results in worsening of paralysis, decreased bowel, bladder control and scoliosis.

Meningocele is less common in cases of Spida Bifida, in which the vertebrae split; meninges sustain damage and push through an opening, in the form of sac or cyst. The sac contains the meninges, and cerebrospinal fluid, however the nerves and spinal cord are not involved. Therefore, neurologic functions are normal, unlike cases of myelomeningocele. The most dominate long-term negative effect for this form of Spina Bifida/meningocele is tethered cord, which could result in paralysis, impaired bowel and bladder control.

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