Tethered Spinal Cord

What is Tethered Spinal Cord Syndrome?
Tethered spinal cord syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by an abnormal stretching of the spinal cord. The course of the disorder is progressive. In children, symptoms may include lesions, hairy patches, dimples, or fatty tumors on the lower back; foot and spinal deformities; weakness in the legs; low back pain; scoliosis; and incontinence. Tethered spinal cord syndrome may go undiagnosed until adulthood, when symptoms such as sensory and motor problems and loss of bowel and bladder control emerge. This delayed presentation of symptoms is related to the degree of strain placed on the spinal cord over time. Tethered spinal cord syndrome appears to be the result of improper development of the neural tube, and is closely linked with spina bifida.

Is there any treatment?
In children, early surgery is recommended to prevent further neurological deterioration. If surgery is not advisable, spinal cord nerve roots may be cut to relieve pain. Other treatment is symptomatic and supportive.

What is the prognosis?
With treatment, patients with tethered spinal cord syndrome have a normal life expectancy. However, some neurological and motor impairments may not be fully correctable.

 

This information was provided by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. You can access their web site for more information by clicking here.


Advice on the treatment or care of an individual patient should be obtained through consultation with a physician who has examined that patient or is familiar with that patient’s medical history. Persons with Spina Bifida are urged to discuss their particular symptoms and situations with their personal physician.


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