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Spine and Back Health

Does he have Spinia Bifidia Occulta?

12/15/2008

Question:

My son since birth has had microcephaly, Arnold Chiari 2, developmental delays and many other heakth issues. Now at 11 he has developed Scoliosis. The neurologist has done a recent MRI of his back due to a patch of hair on his lower back. The doctor sounds confused as he says he has a lot of charecteristics of Spinia Bifidia or a tethered cord but he only found that his cerebellum is malformed and is being squeezed and that a couple of vertabreas in the lower back region have "boney malformations". He says the nerves are not affected. Does this sound like Spinia Bifdia Occulta? If not what else can it be as my son also has an unknown syndrome.

Answer:

Hello, thank you for your question. I'm sorry that you're dealing with such a complex and difficult time with your son. I cannot tell you with any certainty what his diagnosis is without seeing his MRI, but from what you've described, the hairy patch and "bony malformations", it certainly sounds like possible spina bifida occulta. The "occulta" means "hidden", of course, which is why it's difficult to diagnose. It sounds like you have a good pediatric neurologist involved - you might also want to have your son see a pediatric neurosurgeon if he doesn't already, just for an evaluation. Best of luck, and happy holidays.

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Response by:

David J Hart, MD David J Hart, MD
Associate Professor of Neurosurgery
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University