Spina Bifida Occulta
Spina bifida in general is one of a class of neural tube defects that can occur during the early stages of pregnancy. After 4 weeks of pregnancy, the neural tube of the fetus is normally completely closed. The neural tube is the precursor for the spinal cord and the vertebrate that protects the spinal cord. In Spina bifida, the neural tube does not close all the way. Spina bifida occulta is the mildest form of this birth defect. Even within spina bifida occulta, there is a spectrum of severity.
The most minor form of spina bifida occulta affects only one vertebra and usually only one of the lowest vertebra in the small of the back. The vertebrae are formed from the spinal arch after the neural tube closes. If the neural tube does not close properly, the plates in the spinal arch cannot fuse together, thus causing this ‘cleft’. If one of the lower vertebrae is left unfused, there is likely no problem with the spinal cord or nerve roots, thus a person with this form of spina bifida occulta is almost always asymptomatic.
Very informative video about Spina Bifida
In more severe cases of spina bifida occulta several vertebral bodies fuse with each other. In this case, there may be organ involvement as well because fibrous and/or fatty tissue may be impinging on the spinal cord. The organs usually affected are the bladder and bowel. The affected individual may also have problems with their legs as well.
In the mild form of spina bifida occulta, the affected individual may go through his or her entire life with absolutely no symptoms. The only way they would ever know they had spina bifida is if they had an X-ray or MRI of the area and it happened to show the abnormality.
The more severe form of spina bifida occulta may also be asymptomatic for a long time, but at some point the affected individual finds that they suffer from a loss of leg reflexes, leg numbness, back stiffness, sensitivity at the site of the abnormality when pressed, incontinence, or weakness of the legs. Some individuals are born with deformities of the foot. Common indications that something may be wrong (i.e. that the individual may have this birth defect), regardless of the severity is a dimple along the lower spine, a hairy dimple along the spine, or a pad of fat centered over the affected area of the spine.
Inspirational Video about Mary Sue’s life with Spina Bifida Occulta