Health
Fact-checked

At TheHealthBoard, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is Diastematomyelia?

Diastematomyelia is a rare spinal condition where a bony or fibrous septum splits the spinal cord in two. This congenital disorder can cause neurological symptoms and physical deformities. Understanding its causes, symptoms, and treatment options is crucial for those affected. How might this condition impact daily life, and what advancements in care can we anticipate? Join us as we examine the intricacies of Diastematomyelia.
Deborah Walker
Deborah Walker

Diastematomyelia is a congenital spinal condition in which bone, cartilage, or fibrous tissue grows inside of the spinal canal, splitting the spinal cord in two, and then most often reconnecting below the lesion. The condition is often progressive and may occur in conjunction with spina bifida or other congenital spine anomalies. The majority of people are diagnosed with this congenital condition during prenatal ultrasound or well-child doctor's visits. Symptoms vary; they may include spinal cord tethering, or fixation of the spinal column with tissue attachments, which stretch the spine and result in various neurological conditions. Treatment may be surgical or conservative depending on the symptoms.

The exact cause of diastematomyelia is unknown; scientists think that early in gestation, an embryo develops two spinal canals somewhere between the ninth thoracic and first sacral level of the spine. Below the lesion, the spinal columns may recombine, but not always. Diastematomyelia may occur in conjunction with other congenital spinal anomalies including spina bifida, butterfly vertebra, hemivertebra, or kyphoscoliosis. Girls are more often affected than boys.

Many cases of diastematomyelia can be diagnosed via ultrasound.
Many cases of diastematomyelia can be diagnosed via ultrasound.

The diagnosis of diastematomyelia may be made during prenatal ultrasound if the technician is able to view the fetus's back. After birth, the baby's back is routinely checked for any abnormalities. In childhood, a telling symptom of this condition is a hairy patch, dimple, or other type of stigmata at the level of spine separation. Confirmation of this condition may be made with a screening MRI and a postmyelographic CT scan. The scan provides the doctor with a very detailed picture of the bone and will reveal any associated pathology.

Confirmation of diastematomyelia may be made with a CT scan.
Confirmation of diastematomyelia may be made with a CT scan.

Spinal cord tethering, or fixation, may be responsible for neurological symptoms in diastematomyelia. Children may develop leg weakness, lower back pain, or incontinence. Foot and spinal deformities such as scoliosis may also occur. Adults often display sensorimotor problems, bladder, and bowel incontinence, impotence, pain, and symptoms impacting the autonomic nervous system. The condition may be progressive with symptoms worsening over the course of the patient's life.

Diastematomyelia is a congenital spinal condition in which bone or cartilage grows inside of the spinal canal.
Diastematomyelia is a congenital spinal condition in which bone or cartilage grows inside of the spinal canal.

There are two approaches to the treatment of diastematomyelia: surgery and observation. Patients with worsening neurological symptoms may be treated surgically. During minimally-invasive microsurgery, the bone or fibrous tissue is removed and the dural sacs are repaired. The best candidates for surgical treatment are young people who have had less severe neurological symptoms for a shorter duration of time. Asymptomatic or patients with stable symptoms may be treated conservatively by periodic visits to a neurologist. If symptoms develop or worsen, surgery may be required.

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Many cases of diastematomyelia can be diagnosed via ultrasound.
      By: Mikael Damkier
      Many cases of diastematomyelia can be diagnosed via ultrasound.
    • Confirmation of diastematomyelia may be made with a CT scan.
      By: Nejron Photo
      Confirmation of diastematomyelia may be made with a CT scan.
    • Diastematomyelia is a congenital spinal condition in which bone or cartilage grows inside of the spinal canal.
      By: Rafael Ben-Ari
      Diastematomyelia is a congenital spinal condition in which bone or cartilage grows inside of the spinal canal.
    • Patients with diastematomyelia may experience lower back pain.
      By: freshidea
      Patients with diastematomyelia may experience lower back pain.
    • Diastematomyelia may cause spinal cord tethering or fixation.
      By: pankajstock123
      Diastematomyelia may cause spinal cord tethering or fixation.
    • Diastermatomyelia may occur in conjunction with other congenital spinal anomalies.
      By: Dirima
      Diastermatomyelia may occur in conjunction with other congenital spinal anomalies.