UT Physicians Spina Bifida Comprehensive Program

Spina bifida specialists in Houston, TX

What is Spina bifida?

Diagram explains spina bifida with graphic of a baby and close up views of the spine

Spina bifida is a rare birth defect where the spinal cord does not develop properly. The condition is a type of neural tube defect that can occur anywhere along the spine within the first 28 days of pregnancy. Depending on size, location and type, Spina bifida can range from mild to severe. The cause is uncertain but some risk factors include folic acid deficiency, family history, diabetes, obesity and certain medications. Treatments and solutions often require coordinated and lifelong care from multiple providers and specialties. Our goal is to work with you on a customized care plan that is convenient and focused on your child’s quality of life.

Types of Spina bifida

Spina bifida occulta

This is the most common form of spina bifida. It is considered a mild form and is often unnoticed until it appears in an imaging scan. It rarely presents any symptoms or disabilities.

Spina bifida myelomeningocele

Of all types of spina bifida, this is the most severe form. Children with this form can be prone to neurological conditions, infections, paralysis and bowel issues.

Spina bifida meningocele

Although least common, this type is a moderate form of Spina bifida that protrudes above the skin and forms a fluid-filled sac. Surgery is usually required.

Female doctor pointing to a table with scan results explaining treatment options for spina bifida

Spina bifida treatment options

Spina bifida conditions can range from mild to severe. Treatments will vary for each patient but can range from surgery, physical therapy, occupational therapy and orthotics.

Each personalized treatment plan uses evidence-backed solutions and includes a multidisciplinary team of specialists who are focused on the long-term care of your child. Our goal is to ensure your child has the necessary resources to live an independent and fulfilling life.

Cheryl L. Samuels, NP, our patient care coordinator, is here to help answer any questions you may have. She can be reached directly at (832) 325-7234 or [email protected].


UT Physicians is proud to be recognized by the Spina Bifida Association for meeting the standards of care to help ensure people with spina bifida receive the best outcome possible. Our goal is to consistently offer a team-based and coordinated approach to care for all our patients, from birth to adulthood.

Your dedicated care team

It can be confusing or frustrating when coordinating care between multiple health care providers on multiple visits. Our team is committed to offering you a more coordinated and efficient approach. Our office works around your availability and schedules the specialists who are involved in your child’s health care journey. We also will help answer any questions or concerns you may have. Your child’s treatment plan may involve pediatric orthopedists, physical therapists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, urologists and pediatricians with expertise in Spina bifida care. We want to make sure your child gets the right care at the right time.

UT Physicians Spinabifida program

Meet The Team

Christine Hill PT, C/NDT Physical Therapist at UT Physicians

Christy Hill PT, C/NDT

Physical Therapist

Myla Ashfaq, MS, CGC - Genetic Counselor and Assistant Professor

Myla Ashfaq, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor and Assistant Professor

Featured Patient Story

UTHealth Houston
Fetal Center

Our pediatric sub-specialists evaluate and treat patients at The Fetal Center, an international leader in fetal diagnosis, fetal intervention and comprehensive fetal care for infants with congenital anomalies or genetic abnormalities. The location also provides myelomeningocele closure for patients who meet specific criteria for in utero closure. Following treatment and for future appointments, the UT Physicians Spina Bifida team will provide a medical home to ensure their advanced care needs are met.