Nervous System Home > Meningocele

Meningocele is a type of spina bifida in which the spinal cord develops normally but the meninges protrude from a spinal opening. Symptoms vary; while some people will have few or no symptoms of spina bifida, other people may have incomplete paralysis with urinary and bowel dysfunction.

What Is Meningocele?

Spina bifida is a condition that is characterized by the incomplete development of the brain, spinal cord, and/or meninges (the protective covering around the brain and spinal cord). Meningocele is one type of spina bifida in which the spinal cord develops normally but the meninges protrude from a spinal opening.
 

What Causes It?

The exact cause of spina bifida is unknown, and research scientists do not know what disrupts the complete closure of the neural tube, causing a malformation to develop. However, they do suspect that genetic, nutritional, and environmental factors may play a role in the cause of meningocele.
 
(Click Causes of Spina Bifida for more information about the causes of this condition.)
 

Meningocele Symptoms

Symptoms of meningocele vary between patients. Some people with the condition will have few or no symptoms of spina bifida, while other patients may have incomplete paralysis with urinary and bowel dysfunction.
 
(Click Symptoms of Spina Bifida for more information about the symptoms of this disorder.)
 

Making a Diagnosis

In most cases, a meningocele diagnosis is made before birth. Tests that are used to make a diagnosis include:
 
  • Second-trimester maternal serum alpha-fetoprotein screening
  • Fetal ultrasound
  • Multiple-marker screens
  • Amniocentesis.
 
(Click Spina Bifida Diagnosis for more information about the tests that are used in making a meningocele diagnosis.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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