The etymological root of bifido is found in the Latin word bifĭdus. The concept is used as an adjective to describe what has a bifurcation or, in the field of biology, what is split into two sectors or portions.
Spina bifida is known as a malformation of the spine, also called the vertebral column. This malformation is congenital: it is already present at birth.
It should be remembered that the spine is the axis of the skeleton of vertebrates. It is made up of several short bones called vertebrae, which are articulated with each other. In the case of spina bifida, the spine has a protrusion (a fragment that goes beyond its normal limits) at its end.
Spina bifida occurs when, at the end of the first month of embryonic life, the neural tube does not close completely. With the passage of time, the last vertebrae of the spine do not close completely either, which generates the aforementioned protrusion.
Although many times its cause cannot be determined, it is common for spina bifida to develop when the mother had a reduced level of folic acid in the months before pregnancy. Another thing to keep in mind is that it is not a hereditary disorder.
Spina bifida can be open (also called cystic) or hidden. In the case of open spina bifida it appears as a lump on the back. The hidden spina bifida, however, is often seen as a stain or a dimple and the person may not notice this condition.
Some of the possible consequences of spina bifida, which can be partially reversed through surgical intervention, are the following:
* Accumulation of excess cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, a phenomenon known as hydrocephalus, which, in turn, puts a high degree of pressure on the brain tissues that can damage it. This fluid is also called cerebrospinal fluid and bathes the spinal cord and brain. One of its main characteristics is that it has no color;
* various neurological disorders that are often related to hydrocephalus;
* a disease called Arnold Chiari Malformation, which is characterized by the downward movement of part of the cerebellum, although sometimes almost all of its mass, through the greater foramen magnum. This compresses the brainstem and may occur in conjunction with an increase in the amount of cerebrospinal fluid in the skull;
* a disorder called syringomyelia, which consists of the formation of a cyst inside the spinal cord, known as the syrinx, which spreads and expands over time, and can destroy the central part of the cord. Given the connection that exists between it and the nerves of our extremities, it is common for stiffness, weakness and pain in the shoulders, legs, arms or back;
* difficulty concentrating, vision problems and memory disorders;
* abnormalities in the locomotor system;
* muscle paralysis or weakness;
* decreased sensitivity in the area below the injury (in some cases, it may be total);
* Alterations in the control of the intestine and the genito-urinary system, which can manifest in the form of incontinence, both bladder and fecal, or in the opposite situation, that is, retention. Since poor bladder emptying often leads to urinary infections, it is normal for the patient to undergo catheterization.
The bifid tongue, on the other hand, consists of a bifurcation of the organ. The snakes have a forked tongue naturally, while there are human beings who undergo an operation to achieve this feature.