Spina Bifida

Spina Bifida is a birth defect of the brain, spine or spinal cord. It occurs in the fetus and can be operated on through the mother’s uterus. Find the best clinics and doctors for diagnosis and treatment in Spain.

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Spina Bifida in Spain

Spina bifida is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord do not form properly. It is a type of neural tube defect.

Normally, the neural tube forms in early pregnancy and closes 28 days after birth. In babies with spina bifida, a portion of the neural tube does not close or develop properly, causing defects in the spinal cord and spinal bones.

Spina bifida can range from mild to severe, depending on the type of defect, size, location and complications. When necessary, early treatment of spina bifida involves surgery, although such treatment does not always completely resolve the problem.

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    Treatment characteristics

    This intervention is performed on all babies (or fetuses) who are detected with this disease, and is most effective when performed before birth.

    This pathology can be associated with other disorders such as hydrocephalus, paralysis, incontinence or growth disorders.

    This procedure is normally performed under epidural anesthesia in the mother and injecting into the fetus intramuscularly a combo of muscle relaxants and usually requires between 5 and 6 hours.

    A laparotomy is performed on the mother and the surgeon performs the closure of the fetal spinal canal through a uterine window.

    The surgery must be performed quickly to limit the exposure of the fetus to the extra-uterine environment.

    After your time in the recovery room, you will be taken to the ward, where you will stay for 4 to 7 days to continue your recovery (you will probably spend the first two nights in the ICU).

    The result is closure of the spinal canal, reducing the risk of possible complications in both labour and the baby’s development before and after birth and the avoidance of further damage to the nervous system.

    If you undergo this type of surgery you will have to stay in Spain until the birth of your baby.

    Relevant information


    • The advantages between performing the intervention before or after delivery are that patients who have undergone surgery in their fetal phase are more likely to walk without assistance and have less follow-up surgery.

    Treatment itinerary

    Before treatment

    • Check that you have prepared all the personal documentation (credit card, cash, passport, Identity Card…), medical (reports, prescriptions, images…) and travel (confirmation of accommodation booking, travel tickets…)​.
    • If you take medication of any kind not related to the surgery, do not forget to take with you the necessary amount for your stay in Spain, as well as the medical prescription that will allow you to travel with it without problems.​

    During treatment

    • Once you are in Spain, you will have to make an appointment with your specialist. During this visit, the doctor will open your medical record, perform a physical examination and tell you if any further tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis.
    • If it is not necessary and everything is confirmed, your doctor will tell you when you must go to the preoperative study and will confirm the time of admission for the day of your surgery.​
    • If the surgeon has told you to stop taking any medication a few days before the surgery, such as anticoagulants, please do not forget to follow the exact instructions given by the doctor or you will not be able to have the operation!​

    After treatment

    • You should follow the instructions given to you by your doctor and the expert physical therapists to start walking, and don’t forget to avoid physical overexertion such as from running, carrying weight, sudden rotations or doing impact sports.


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