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Home > Student Cases > Spina bifida

Spina bifida

Spina Bifida


Clinical data

  • An eighteen day old infant was admitted with a ruptured spina bifida and signs of meningitis, viz. neck rigidity and convulsions.

Post-mortem pathology

  • At post mortem there was a large cystic mass over the sacrum, covered in part by skin and in part by necrotic sloughing tissue. The specimen shows this lesion (excised) alongside the child’s brain.

At post mortem there was a large cystic mass over the sacrum, covered in part by skin and in part by necrotic sloughing tissue.

  • This is a section through the baby’s pelvis.
  • Anteriorly lie the pelvic organs.
  • Posteriorly, the spinal membranes and spinal cord bulge out through the unfused spinal vertebrae.

Section through the baby's pelvis.

  • The greatly thickened cauda equina passes out to be incorporated in the posterior wall of the cyst.
  • A pyogenic membrane lines the surrounding cyst.

Greatly thickened cauda equina.

  • A suppurative exudate is present in the subarachnoid space of the brain, especially around the midbrain and pons.

A suppurative exudate is present in the subarachnoid space of the brain, especially around the midbrain and pons.

  • This is a myelomeningocoele (or meningomyelocoele) since both meninges and neural tissue have extended though the defect in the spinal column. 
  • The major complications are neurological deficit in the lower limbs and in bowel and bladder control, as well as infection, which in this case has ascended to cause a fatal meningitis. 

Related Specimens

Anencephaly

Meningocoele

Encephalocoele


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