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Spina bifida (SB) is an umbrella term for multiple conditions characterized by misclosure of vertebral arches. Neuropathologic findings in SB cases are often reported with imprecise and overlapping terminology. In view of the increasing identification of SB-associated genes and pathomechanisms, the precise description of SB subtypes is highly important. In particular, the term "myelomeningocele" is applied to various and divergent SB subtypes. We reevaluated 90 cases with SB (58 prenatal; 32 postnatal). The most frequent SB phenotype in our cohort was myeloschisis, which is characterized by an open neural plate with exposed ependyma (n = 28; 31.1%). An open neural plate was initially described in only in two-thirds of the myeloschisis cases. An additional 21 cases (23.3%) had myelomeningocele; 2 cases (2.2%) had a meningocele; and 21 cases (23.3%) had an unspecified SB aperta (SBA) subtype. Overall, the SB phenotype was corrected in about one-third of the cases. Our findings highlight that "myelomeningocele" and "SB aperta" cannot be used as synonymous terms and that myeloschisis is an underreported SB phenotype. Based on our findings and a review of literature we propose a classification of SB subtypes in SB occulta and the 3 SBA subtypes, meningocele, myelomeningocele, and myeloschisis. © 2021 American Association of Neuropathologists, Inc. All rights reserved.


Kim Hannah Schindelmann, Fabienne Paschereit, Alexandra Steege, Gisela Stoltenburg-Didinger, Angela M Kaindl. Systematic Classification of Spina Bifida. Journal of neuropathology and experimental neurology. 2021 Mar 22;80(4):294-305

PMID: 33576426

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