Adult Spina Bifida and Bladder Extrophy

At Columbia Doctors, we have established a unique, multidisciplinary clinic for the care of patients who were born with congenital urologic issues who are young adults. Learn more about the clinic.

What is spina bifida?

Spina bifida is a birth defect which involves an incomplete closing of the backbone and membranes around the spinal cord. The most common location is the lower back. Common problems associated with spina bifida include problems with bladder and/or bowel control, ventricle of the brain swelling (hydrocephalus), a tethered spinal cord, latex allergy, and poor ability to walk. To help manage all these complex problems we have established a detailed holistic approach to care.

What is bladder extrophy?

Bladder extrophy (BE) is a congenital problem where the bladder does not close. The open bladder is exposed on the abdominal wall. The pelvic bones are also abnormal and widely separated. The prostate and penis (epispadias) are also commonly abnormally formed. Bladder extrophy is a rare birth defect and occurs in one in 10,000 to 50,000 live births. Reconstruction usually involves closure of the bladder and abdominal wall, repair of the flattened penis, and prevention of urine leakage. At the time of urine leakage repair, the bladder can be enlarged by a patch of bowel, if necessary.