Diagnosed with spina bifida? Trust Hoag

Serious, potentially-debilitating conditions like spina bifida deserve the best available treatment the medical community can give. Don't know where to turn for your child? Trust Hoag is here to help. At Hoag Spine Center, our team of preeminent, board-certified physicians, therapists and specialists takes a whole-patient approach, for a more accurate diagnosis, less invasive treatment, less pain and shorter recovery time. When everything is on the line, trust Hoag.

Spina Bifida Care at Hoag

According to the Centers for Disease Control, around 1,400 children per year are born with spina bifida in the U.S. To help them live fuller lives, these children need early intervention, and the most personalized care we can provide. Seeking treatment for spina bifida in Orange County? Trust Hoag, California's leader for serious conditions of the back and spine. At Hoag, our dedication to accurate diagnosis and lasting treatments is matched only by our empathetic programs to support patients and their families at every step of the treatment journey.

Common Questions

What is spina bifida?

Spina Bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the neural tube inside the vertebrae that serves as a channel for the spinal cord doesn’t form properly. It’s a type of neural tube defect, and can happen anywhere along the spine.

Damage can be mild to severe and can also affect the brain, nerve and nerve coverings. The condition can cause intellectual and physical disabilities that range from severe to mild.  Spina bifida life expectancy varies greatly from patient to patient, but a study by the NIH found that a third of sufferers pass before the age of five, while 26 percent lived to 35 years old. 

The three most common types of spina bifida are:

  • Myelomeningocele: The most common type of spina bifida, characterized by a sac of fluid containing part of the spinal cord and nerves that comes through an opening in a baby’s back at birth. This type causes moderate to severe disability, including symptoms like loss of feeling in the feet or legs, impacting the person’s ability to walk.
  • Spina Bifida Occulta:  The mildest type of spina bifida, spina bifida occulta occurs when there is a small opening in the spine, but no opening through the skin of the back. This type usually causes no disabilities. Because the spinal cord and nerves are usually unaffected, spina bifida occulta is sometimes not discovered until after a child reaches puberty or later.
  • Meningocele: Like myelomeningocele, babies born with this type of spina bifida have a sac of fluid that comes through an opening in the baby’s back. In meningocele spina bifida, however, the spinal cord does not intrude into the sac. This type usually causes minor disabilities.

How is spina bifida diagnosed?

Spina bifida can be diagnosed in utero through amniocentesis, an ultrasound or a blood test called AFP. It can also be diagnosed after the baby is born. Symptoms may include:

  • An enlarged head
  • Paralysis or hindered motor functions
  • A patch of hairy skin or a pronounced dimple on the baby’s back
  • Inability to control bladder and bowel functions
  • Clubfoot or dislocated hip

What are the risk factors for spina bifida?

It’s not known what causes spina bifida, but several factors can increase the risk of a baby developing the condition, including:

  • Lack of folic acid during pregnancy
  • Family history
  • Medicines, vitamins or supplements taken during pregnancy
  • Genetic conditions
  • Obesity during pregnancy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy
Common Questions

My child has been diagnosed with spina bifida. Now what do we do?

Trust Hoag. At Hoag, our fellowship-trained team of spine specialists is certified to treat a host of spinal conditions. We’re committed to treating every patient like a person, not a chart. Hoag provides the latest technology and treatments, with minimally-invasive techniques designed to help speed recovery with less pain. Meet the Hoag Spine Center Team.

What treatments are available for spina bifida?

Treatment for spina bifida is different for every patient. Those with very mild spina bifida may not need any treatments at all. While spina bifida can’t be cured, the condition can sometimes be treated. Treatment options may include:

  • Physical Therapy 
  • Pain Management
  • Surgery – a surgical correction may also be required.
Services Offered

Minimally-invasive robotic spinal surgery at Hoag

When your spine is on the line, trust Hoag for spine surgery. Hoag was the first hospital on the West Coast to offer the Mazor X Stealth™   advanced robotic navigation platform for spinal surgery. Combining 3D pre-operative planning tools with robotic precision, the system provides surgeons with advanced visualization of your body’s unique internal structures, and you with the great chance to come back strong from back surgery. Learn more about advanced robotic surgery at Hoag.

Award-Winning Care for the Spine at Hoag

There’s a reason why U.S. News and World Report’s 2022-2023 list of top hospitals ranked Hoag as High Performing — their top distinction — in neurology, neurosurgery and spinal fusion. A higher standard of care. Accurate diagnosis for more successful treatment. A multidisciplinary team of spine-care specialists who are committed to seeing you heal. That’s spinal care at Hoag. Read an essay about a real Hoag patient’s spine-care journey.

Confused about your condition? Trust Hoag Nurse Navigators

Facing a health issue that could involve surgery can be confusing for anyone. That’s why the Hoag Spine Center offers our unique Nurse Navigator program. These trained nurses are there for you, both as a guide and a resource for medically-accurate information about your unique diagnosis. It’s one more way Hoag is here for you through your journey as a patient, every step of the way. Get started with our spine nurse navigator.

Common Questions

What is spina bifida?

Spina Bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the neural tube inside the vertebrae that serves as a channel for the spinal cord doesn’t form properly. It’s a type of neural tube defect, and can happen anywhere along the spine.

Damage can be mild to severe and can also affect the brain, nerve and nerve coverings. The condition can cause intellectual and physical disabilities that range from severe to mild.  Spina bifida life expectancy varies greatly from patient to patient, but a study by the NIH found that a third of sufferers pass before the age of five, while 26 percent lived to 35 years old. 

The three most common types of spina bifida are:

  • Myelomeningocele: The most common type of spina bifida, characterized by a sac of fluid containing part of the spinal cord and nerves that comes through an opening in a baby’s back at birth. This type causes moderate to severe disability, including symptoms like loss of feeling in the feet or legs, impacting the person’s ability to walk.
  • Spina Bifida Occulta:  The mildest type of spina bifida, spina bifida occulta occurs when there is a small opening in the spine, but no opening through the skin of the back. This type usually causes no disabilities. Because the spinal cord and nerves are usually unaffected, spina bifida occulta is sometimes not discovered until after a child reaches puberty or later.
  • Meningocele: Like myelomeningocele, babies born with this type of spina bifida have a sac of fluid that comes through an opening in the baby’s back. In meningocele spina bifida, however, the spinal cord does not intrude into the sac. This type usually causes minor disabilities.

How is spina bifida diagnosed?

Spina bifida can be diagnosed in utero through amniocentesis, an ultrasound or a blood test called AFP. It can also be diagnosed after the baby is born. Symptoms may include:

  • An enlarged head
  • Paralysis or hindered motor functions
  • A patch of hairy skin or a pronounced dimple on the baby’s back
  • Inability to control bladder and bowel functions
  • Clubfoot or dislocated hip

What are the risk factors for spina bifida?

It’s not known what causes spina bifida, but several factors can increase the risk of a baby developing the condition, including:

  • Lack of folic acid during pregnancy
  • Family history
  • Medicines, vitamins or supplements taken during pregnancy
  • Genetic conditions
  • Obesity during pregnancy
  • Uncontrolled diabetes during pregnancy

Common Questions

My child has been diagnosed with spina bifida. Now what do we do?

Trust Hoag. At Hoag, our fellowship-trained team of spine specialists is certified to treat a host of spinal conditions. We’re committed to treating every patient like a person, not a chart. Hoag provides the latest technology and treatments, with minimally-invasive techniques designed to help speed recovery with less pain. Meet the Hoag Spine Center Team.

What treatments are available for spina bifida?

Treatment for spina bifida is different for every patient. Those with very mild spina bifida may not need any treatments at all. While spina bifida can’t be cured, the condition can sometimes be treated. Treatment options may include:

  • Physical Therapy 
  • Pain Management
  • Surgery – a surgical correction may also be required.

Services Offered

Minimally-invasive robotic spinal surgery at Hoag

When your spine is on the line, trust Hoag for spine surgery. Hoag was the first hospital on the West Coast to offer the Mazor X Stealth™   advanced robotic navigation platform for spinal surgery. Combining 3D pre-operative planning tools with robotic precision, the system provides surgeons with advanced visualization of your body’s unique internal structures, and you with the great chance to come back strong from back surgery. Learn more about advanced robotic surgery at Hoag.

Award-Winning Care for the Spine at Hoag

There’s a reason why U.S. News and World Report’s 2022-2023 list of top hospitals ranked Hoag as High Performing — their top distinction — in neurology, neurosurgery and spinal fusion. A higher standard of care. Accurate diagnosis for more successful treatment. A multidisciplinary team of spine-care specialists who are committed to seeing you heal. That’s spinal care at Hoag. Read an essay about a real Hoag patient’s spine-care journey.

Confused about your condition? Trust Hoag Nurse Navigators

Facing a health issue that could involve surgery can be confusing for anyone. That’s why the Hoag Spine Center offers our unique Nurse Navigator program. These trained nurses are there for you, both as a guide and a resource for medically-accurate information about your unique diagnosis. It’s one more way Hoag is here for you through your journey as a patient, every step of the way. Get started with our spine nurse navigator.