Spina Bifida | Diagnosis & Treatment

How is spina bifida diagnosed?

In some cases, spina bifida may be diagnosed before birth with an alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) blood test or through imaging tests such as prenatal ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

When spina bifida is suspected in babies or older children, it may be diagnosed using a spinal ultrasound or MRI.

What are the treatment options for spina bifida?

Treatment for spina bifida varies greatly depending on the type of spina bifida the child has, and his or her specific symptoms. In general, children with more severe types of spina bifida need more treatment than those with less severe types.

Possible treatments a child may need include:

How we care for spina bifida

At the Boston Children’s Hospital Spina Bifida and Spinal Cord Conditions Center, our team works together to develop a personalized and coordinated care plan for your child. We provide age-appropriate care at each developmental stage. Our clinicians are all dedicated to spina bifida care and have many years of experience in treating children of all ages with this complex condition.

We are one of few centers in the world that offers complete coordination of care among all specialty areas. Our two dedicated nurse practitioners and administrative staff will coordinate all of your child’s care at each visit— from clinic visits to testing to surgery.

Boston Children’s Hospital is also the only spina bifida center in New England that provides transition care for adult spina bifida.

Meet Dr. Estrada

As the Director of the Spina Bifida and Spinal Cord Conditions Center, he believes improving quality of life is the most important part of care.

Our areas of innovation for spina bifida

Our clinicians are actively involved in research to develop new therapies to mitigate bladder deterioration and finding biomarkers to help diagnose spina bifida earlier as well as biomarkers for kidney and bladder deterioration. Our center has pioneered several innovative surgeries for spina bifida patients, including ETV/CPC, spinal cord detethering and robotic bladder augmentation.

Our Urodynamics Program was one of the first of its kind in the world and is responsible for many of the innovations in pediatric urodynamics today. Our program uses advanced technology to provide a unique and comprehensive understanding of bladder and nerve function, which we use to guide treatment.