Issues of medical management in adults with spina bifida
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The objective of this study was to establish the range of medical issues among those attending a clinic for adults with spina bifida (SB) and hydrocephalus (CASBAH). Owing to improvements in medical care in the past 3–4 decades, an increasing number of SB patients go on to prosper in adult life. Since 1990 there has been a CASBAH service in Belfast serving Northern Ireland on a regional basis. There are now 237 patients with SB remaining on the live register at CASBAH. All records were reviewed with regard to site of lesion, ambulatory ability, shunt placement and regularity of attendance. The records of 193 were also reviewed with reference to musculoskeletal problems, bladder function, bowel function, renal impairment and hypertension, skin breakdown, epilepsy and the incidence of clinically significant Chiari/hydrosyringomyelia. Of the patients on the register, 36% are wheelchair dependent, 8% have some ambulatory capacity but are largely wheelchair dependent, 22% are ambulatory with aid and 34% are independently ambulatory. Bladder function is normal in 8%, whilst 32% describe normal bowel function. Renal impairment is present in 48% of patients, and 15% are on anti-hypertensive therapy. Epilepsy is an active issue in 9%, and intraventricular shunts are in situ in 37% of patients. Scoliosis is present in 50% and 70% have joint deformities or contractures. Five patients have become symptomatic from the Chiari/hydrosyringomyelia complex. These data reflect the considerable range of disability in adult SB patients, the challenges presented in long-term management and the need for organised follow-up.
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