Conditions + Treatments

Testing & Diagnosis for Spina Bifida in Children

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Contact the Spina Bifida and Spinal Cord Conditions Center

  • 1-617-355-8532

How is Spina Bifida Detected?

Boston Children’s Hospital is renowned for advanced and accurate spina bifida testing and compassionate prenatal care of spina bifida. Many families come to our center for definitive diagnosis, comprehensive prenatal and postnatal testing or an objective second opinion. Tests to detect spina bifida include:

  • Prenatal ultrasounds and/or MRI performed by skilled radiologists using advanced equipment designed for fetal imaging
  • Spinal ultrasounds for babies who are less than 4 months old to detect spinal cord abnormalities that may require surgery
  • Boston Children’s provides uniquely comprehensive and advanced evaluations that can give doctors and families further information about the condition, suggest minimally invasive treatment options or even rule out the need for certain procedures. Some of these tests include:
  • A world-renowned urodynamics study to assess how well your child's bladder and urethral sphincter are doing at collecting, holding and releasing urine.
  • A full neurological assessment both before and after spinal surgery

Learn more about the spina bifida testing options we offer at Boston Children’s Hospital.

Whether you are an expecting mother seeking an objective second opinion or searching for the right specialist for your newborn, spina bifida testing at Boston Children’s can provide you with the answers you need.

Spina Bifida Clinic 

Prenatal Spinal Bifida Detection

If you have received a prenatal diagnosis of spina bifida through a mid-term blood test, ultrasound, or amniocentesis procedure, our skilled pediatric radiologists and fetal imaging experts will perform an ultrasound and/or MRI using highly advanced and sensitive equipment to confirm or clarify this diagnosis. We conduct this test in our dedicated fetal care center, the Advanced Fetal Care Center.

If the diagnosis is confirmed, we then arrange for an objective consultation with a team of specialists to review the test results. They will explain the various aspects of your child’s health that you can expect, from infancy through adulthood.

After we review the test results, our specialists will coordinate with your perinatologist or maternal fetal medicine center to plan your delivery and ensure you and your baby receive exceptional, coordinated care. Boston Children’s is surrounded by some of the best maternity centers in the world. If you choose to have your baby at Brigham and Women’s Hospital or the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, you are right next door to world-class surgeons and NICU.

Comprehensive Postnatal Spina Bifida Testing

Families come to Boston Children’s for the most precise and advanced testing available. Our skilled radiologists, neurosurgeons, urologists and other specialists can clarify a spina bifida diagnosis, monitor evolving needs of a child or young adults with the condition, and make customized recommendations for immediate and ongoing treatment. Our highly sophisticated spina bifida tests include:

  • Postnatal ultrasound or MRI: Performed immediately after birth, these imaging tests provide a clearer view of the spinal cord and vertebrae.
  • CT scan: Your child’s doctor may request these tests to look for extra cerebrospinal fluid inside the brain (hydrocephalus).
  • Urodynamics study: We are a world leader in bladder and sphincter health for children with spina bifida. Nerve conduction studies (NCS) and electromyography (EMG) are specific tests that help your child’s doctor see how his or her nerves and muscles are working. The studies are usually performed during the newborn period, so that therapy can be initiated as soon as possible. Studies are also needed when children with spina bifida are older, if they haven't achieved continence with catheterization and drugs that help paralyze the bladder.

Make an Appointment

For an appointment, more information or to obtain a second opinion for your child, please call us at 617-355-8532 or request an appointment online.

Spina Bifida Nurse Line at Boston Children’s

If you have a medical question about your child with spina bifida, please call our Nurse Line at 617-355-7704.

Boston Children’s is so much more than a hospital—it’s a community of researchers, clinicians, administrators, support staff, innovators, teachers, patients and families, all working together to make the impossible possible. ”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO

Boston Children's Hospital
300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115
For Patients: 617-355-6000
For Referring Providers: 844-BCH-PEDS | 844-224-7337