Congenital defects of closure of one or more vertebral arches, which may be associated with malformations of the spinal cord, nerve roots, congenital fibrous bands, lipomas, and congenital cysts. These malformations range from mild (e.g., spina bifida occulta) to severe, including rachischisis where there is complete failure of neural tube and spinal cord fusion, resulting in exposure of the spinal cord at the surface. spinal dysraphism includes all forms of spina bifida. The open form is called spina bifida cystica and the closed form is spina bifida occulta. (From Joynt, Clinical neurology, 1992, Ch55, p34)

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