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Types of Spina Bifida

The three main types of spina bifida are spina bifida occulta, meningocele, and myelomeningocele. Each of these types has a different level of severity (myelomeningocele is the most severe) and different symptoms.

An Introduction to the Types of Spina Bifida

There are three main spina bifida types:
  • Spina bifida occulta
  • Meningocele
  • Myelomeningocele.

Spina Bifida Occulta

Spina bifida occulta is the mildest and most common form of spina bifida. In spina bifida occulta, one or more vertebrae are malformed. The name occulta means "hidden" and indicates that a layer of skin covers the malformation, or opening in the spine. This type of spina bifida rarely causes disability or symptoms.
(Click Spina Bifida Occulta for more information about this form of spina bifida.)


In meningocele, the meninges protrude from the spinal opening and the malformation may or may not be covered by a layer of skin. Some patients with meningocele may have few or no symptoms, while others may experience symptoms similar to those of closed neural tube defects.
(Click Meningocele for more information about this spina bifida type.)


Myelomeningocele is the most severe spina bifida type. It occurs when the spinal cord is exposed through an opening in the spine, resulting in partial or complete paralysis of the parts of the body that are below the spinal opening. The paralysis may be so severe that the affected individual is unable to walk and may have urinary and bowel dysfunction.
(Click Myelomeningocele for more information about this form of spina bifida.)
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Spina Bifida Information

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