Spina bifida is a birth defect that happens when a baby’s backbone (spine) doesn’t form like it should. The spinal cord (a bundle of nerves that runs down the center of the spine) and the nerves that branch out of it may be damaged. "Spina bifida" is Latin for "split spine." The effects can vary based on how severe the condition is and how much it damages the nerves of the spinal cord. At Nemours, we can provide expert surgical treatment for spina bifida. And our specialists are here to help give babies like yours the best chance at a healthy future.
Specialized Care to Help Kids Thrive
Conditions We Treat
At Nemours, we see children for both forms of spina bifida:
- spina bifida occulta (when gaps in the backbone aren’t large enough for the spinal cord to fit through, so it stays hidden under the skin)
- spina bifida aperta, which includes two types:
- meningocele (when the protective tissue around the spinal cord protrudes from the baby’s back, but the cord itself stays tucked inside)
- myelomeningocele (the most severe form — when both the protective tissue and the spinal cord itself stick out of the body at birth)
Services We Offer
Babies born with meningocele or myelomeningocele will need to have surgery soon after they’re born. Those with myelomeningocele may need long-term follow-up care to help with any nerve damage.
At Nemours, we offer a variety of treatment services, which may vary depending on the condition or location, including:
- occupational therapy (to help with movement from nerve damage)
- orthopedic surgery (to repair the spine and spinal cord)
- orthotics (to provide devices that may be able to help support and improve movement)
- physical therapy evaluation (to help with any trouble controlling the muscles in the spine and legs)
- support services (to provide support and help meet families’ nonmedical needs)
- urology evaluation and management (to help if the nerves that connect to the bladder and bowels are damaged)
Why Choose Us
Our world-renowned orthopedics program has experience dealing with the surgical treatment of spina bifida. We also work with families to address children’s physical and emotional needs. We continue to regularly see kids with spina bifida as they grow so we can identify any current or possible problems — and correct them as quickly as possible.
Regional Spina Bifida Highlights
Services, programs and care teams differ at each location. Call for details.
We offer complete spina bifida care at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children (Wilmington, Del.) and select satellite Nemours duPont Pediatrics locations.
- ranked among the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country, year after year, for pediatric orthopedics by U.S. News & World Report
- one of the longest-standing, most well-known pediatric orthopedic practices in the nation and the world
- specialized spina bifida program with a team approach that includes expertise in orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, urology, rehabilitation and behavioral health
- nationally known spinal deformities program
- home of innovations like the Wilmington Brace and the Wilmington Robotic EXoskeleton (WREX)
- pediatric outpatient therapy services program that’s one of the only in the region accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF)
- on-site shops for orthotics, prosthetics, wheelchairs and assistive technology to help kids get around, communicate and learn
- advanced diagnostic services, including fetal diagnostic testing and perinatal consultations while your baby is still in the womb
- Ronald McDonald House of Delaware across from the hospital campus, for an affordable home away from home during long hospital stays
We offer complete spina bifida care at Nemours Children’s Hospital (Orlando) and select Nemours Children’s Specialty Care satellite locations.
- Spina Bifida Center of Excellence (SB Center), where we offer care like no other provider in Central Florida
- large team of pediatric spina bifida experts including surgeons, urologists, radiologists, mental health experts, and physical and occupational therapists working together to coordinate your child’s care — all under one roof
- advanced radiology (imaging) services including fetal diagnostics
- onsite orthotics and prosthetics shops
- support services such as animal-assisted activities, Child Life specialists, expressive arts, social workers
- Ronald McDonald House on campus, for an affordable home away from home during long hospital stays
We offer spina bifida care at Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, Jacksonville (working with Wolfson Children’s Hospital) and select satellite locations.
- access to a team of specialists
- nurse case manager, who can coordinate office visits, educate your family about spina bifida, and follow up with your child’s school and regular doctor
- state-of-the-art radiology (imaging) services
- orthotics and prosthetics shops
- casting, orthotic and prosthetic shops