What is Spina Bifida?

Spina bifida literally means “split spine”. It is a congenital (present at birth) condition which occurs in very early pregnancy when a fault in the development of the spinal cord and surrounding bones (vertebrae) leaves a gap or split in the spine. The spinal cord does not form properly and may also be damaged. The effects of spina bifida depend on the level of the fault in the spine and which nerves are involved. There may be difficulties with mobility and continence and in some, more severe cases, paralysis below the level of the fault.

For further, more detailed information about spina bifida and hydrocephalus visit the SHINE website 


What is hydrocephalus?

Hydrocephalus comes from the Greek word “hydro” meaning water and “cephalic” meaning brain. It is caused by a build up of cerebra-spinal fluid (CSF) in the ventricles of the brain resulting in increased pressure. Hydrocephalus can be congenital (present at birth) and caused by, for example, Aqueduct Stenosis or Dandy Walker cysts or it can be acquired after birth as a result of, for example, a hemorrhage (stroke), prematurity, meningitis, a head injury, tumors or in association with spina bifida. Sometimes the cause is unknown. Hydrocephalus can lead to problems that affect everyday life such as difficulties with concentration and short term memory, co-ordination, motivation, and organisational skills. Most forms of hydrocephalus require treatment and this is usually surgical and involves inserting a shunting device to drain the excess CSF.