What is Spina Bifida?

Spina Bifida is a congenital condition where there is a gap or fault with the vertebrae. There are three degrees of severity which can occur during pregnancy these being: spina bifida occulta, spina bifida cystica with meningocele, and spina bifida cystica with myelomeningocele. Spina bifida cystica with meningocele and spina bifida cystica with myelomeningocele are the two types of spinda bifida which result in the spinal cord to bulge out and cause bladder and bowel problems.

Managing Spina Bifida

managing-spina-bifidaAnyone who is born with spina bifida is as special as any other child and yet equally challenging as any other child. This can be highly stressful for both the parent and the child. However the family will find they build a good relationship with the local urology team and may also visit a specialist centre. When managing bladder problems for someone with spina bifida one soon learns how to recognise urinary tract infections which in turn will help in protecting the kidney function. There are several ways to help with urinary incontinence, one of which is intermittent self-catheterisation / clean self-catheterisation. When performing intermittent self-catheterisation on a young child, particularly when starting this journey, they may find it very traumatic. Sometimes surgical intervention is necessary and a Mitrofanoff / continent urinary diversion is required. Intermittent self-catheterisation does not hurt, there may be a feeling of pressure when the catheter goes into the bladder or sometimes it may be a little bit difficult to pass the catheter. If trouble occurs with inserting the catheter, often taking a few minutes to have a break and try again may help.

When the older child becomes more independent it is important for them to be able to learn how and when to manage their bladder. Intermittent self-catheterisation encourages them to gain control of their bladder problems and therefore will help to increase their confidence and maintain their dignity.