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False-colour X-ray showing a large meningo- myelocele in a spina bifida patient. Here, the size of the meningomyelocele around the lower lumbar vertebrae is represented by the blue circular area on the X-ray. Spina bifida is a general term for a range of neural tube defects, caused by an embryonal failure in the fusion of the dorsal parts of vertebrae. In this case the defect is severe enough to allow the meninges, the spinal cord and its nerves to bulge through the gap to form a sac, the meningomyelocele. This deformity usually results in neurological symptoms such as paralysis of the legs and urinary incontinence.
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