Spina bifida is a condition that affects the spine and/or spinal cord and occurs in utero. This often results in damage to the spinal cord and nerves, which can range from mild to severe, depending on the location as well as the size of the defect. The three most common types of spina bifida are myelomeningocele, meningocele, and spina bifida occulta. Spina bifida is the most common diagnosis leading to neurogenic bladder in children.
Spina bifida usually affects a patient’s bladder and bowel function. New problems such as kidney or bladder stones may emerge and require treatment. The bladder must also be monitored long-term in those who catheterize or who have had bladder surgery due to the small but real risk of bladder cancer. Treatment options offered include in-office bladder Botox® injection and minimally invasive or open reconstructive surgery to achieve the goals of kidney protection and improving quality of life and independence.
Sexual health, fertility, and reproductive health are important issues that are often under-addressed. A urologist will discuss these issues with you in an individualized way.
Our team of experienced urologists in the Northwestern Medicine Transitional Urology Program has specialized training to facilitate uninterrupted care for patients with spina bifida.