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Spine and Back Health

Split Spinal Chord

03/23/2011

Question:

hi i have a 6yrold son who from birth has had 3 fused vertebrae in his neck, after 6yrs of trying to get this told to me and numerous scans i have now also been told he has a split spinal chord. we are now waiting on scans for him to get his organs scanned and also to see a plastic surgeon(for a fluid filled sac on the back of his head which i was told was a birthmark but now it has came to light they now feel this is related to his split spinal chord! have you ever came across this before and what is the consequences of this. also please note my son cannot move his neck to the right and limited movement to the left. can you shed some light on this for me as his next appointment is not for months and i am trying to come to terms with all this at present.

Answer:

Hello, thank you for your question. These kinds of problems are very complex, and need to be evaluated by a pediatric neurosurgeon. They will make sure appropriate testing is done, and explain what impact this might have on your son in the long-term. He definitely should be evaluated thoroughly by a team of pediatric specialists. I'm sure this is extremely stressful for you, but I can't really be much more specific. Split-cord malformations are complex issues, especially if there are other abnormalities associated with them. It's fairly likely that he'll need surgery to correct the split cord malformation, since these can cause major problems when a child hits a growth spurt. Good luck to you and to your son.

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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