Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a condition in which the spine and spinal cord do not form correctly before a baby is born. It often leads to damage to the spinal cord and nerves.

Damage can range from mild to severe, depending on the location and size of the defect.

The three most common types of spina bifida are:

  • Myelomeningocele
  • Meningocele
  • Spina bifida occulta

Spina bifida usually affects your ability to control your bladder and bowels.

People with spina bifida may also develop problems such as kidney or bladder stones that need treatment.

Those who use a catheter or who have had bladder surgery are at higher risk of bladder cancer. While the risk is small, they need to be monitored long-term.

Comprehensive Care

Northwestern Medicine offers comprehensive, consolidated care for adults with spina bifida. We have an integrated, multidisciplinary team of specialists who offer innovative and minimally invasive treatments in our office.

During a standard clinic visit, you will see the following medical professionals:

  • Urologist
  • Physiatrist
  • Clinical Social Worker


Your Northwestern Medicine care team will evaluate your condition and create a comprehensive management and treatment plan based on your needs and goals.

We offer urodynamic testing to see how well you are holding and releasing urine. Among the treatment options we offer are bladder BOTOX® injections and cystoscopy.

People with spina bifida often have concerns related to sexual health, fertility and reproductive health. These are important issues for your quality of life. A urologist will discuss your condition and options with you.

Locations & Contact Information