Spinal dysraphism

Last revised by Dr Daniel J Bell on 21 Jun 2021

Spinal dysraphisms refer to a broad group of malformations affecting the spine and/or surrounding structures in the dorsum of the embryo. They are a form of neural tube defect.

The neural tube is formed by the lengthwise closure of the neural plate, in the dorsum of the embryo.

The upper part of the neural tube forms the forebrain, midbrain and hindbrain. The lower part of the neural tube forms the spinal canal. Dysraphism results when the neural plate does not fuse completely in its lower section.

Spinal dysraphism can be broadly divided into two different clinicoradiological entities 8,9:

Associated abnormalities of mesenchymal development occur often. Hence, lipomas and/or teratomas may be associated with any type.

Dysraphism is formed from the Greek root raphe which means ridge or seam.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: diastematomyelia with dorsal dermal sinus
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  • Case 2: closed spinal dysraphism- lipomyelocele
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