Occulta, the mildest form, results in a small gap in one or more of the vertebrae of the spine. In many cases, there is no nerve damage. In other cases, subtle, progressive, neurologic deterioration may develop later in life.
Meningocele, is the rarest of these three, in which the meninges (the protective membrane covering the spinal cord) protrudes through an opening in the spine. The defect can be repaired surgically and usually does not result in paralysis because it does not involve the spinal cord itself. However, affected children may still develop hydrocephalus (a buildup of fluid on the brain) and bowel/bladder problems.
Myelomeningocele is the most severe form, where the spinal cord and meninges protrude from a spinal opening. surgery is usually performed within 24 hours of birth to put the exposed nerves and cord back into the spinal canal and prevent further damage. However, the nerve damage that has occurred is permanent. Issues associated with this type of Spina Bifida include paralysis, orthopedic issues, hydrocephalus, bowel/bladder problems, and learning disabilities.