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Spinal Cord

The case of the child with a split spinal cord

Two-year old Zoya of Sudan is the first-born and the only child in the family. Zoya was born a beautiful girl with a lovely symmetrical face and large sparkling eyes. However, at birth, Zoya was diagnosed with a condition called Myelomeningocele and Congenital Hydrocephalus. Myelomeningocele is a condition where the child is born with an incomplete spinal canal – the spinal cord and its covering tissues protrude from the child’s back. As a result of this condition, Zoya developed Hydrocephalus, which means there was fluid accumulating in her brain and it needed to be urgently drained out.

The parents had to handle the infant very carefully in order to avoid any further damage to the spine. Within the first week after birth, Zoya underwent a surgery to repair the myelomeningocele. A draining tube was placed from her brain into her abdominal cavity so that any fluid accumulating in the brain would drain into the abdominal cavity. She recovered well from the surgery but her parents had been informed that Zoya could suffer from long term effects of her condition. However, things seemed to go well for Zoya. She started walking and talking like any other child. But the family’s troubles were not over yet.

When Zoya was 2 years old, she started having problems with her left leg. This leg appeared weaker than her right leg creating problems while walking. Her parents, knowing her history, were worried. They wanted her to be checked by the best doctors who could help her. They travelled to India for her treatment. This is when they heard about Health Travellers Worldwide (HTW) helping patients find the right doctor and the right hospital, and they immediately got in touch with the HTW team.

In no time, Zoya and her parents were consulting one of the best Neurosurgeons in this part of the world, Dr. N K Venkataramana. He examined the child thoroughly, went through her compete history and advised the parents that the child would need to undergo another surgery because she had a condition called Diastematomyelia with Tethered Cord syndrome. In simple terms, Zoya’s spinal cord was split somewhere in the middle because of a piece of bony growth and it was also attached to the surrounding tissue, thus not allowing movement of the cord as Zoya grew. Needless to say, the parents were devastated. In the course of bringing up Zoya, they had all but forgotten about what they had gone through two years ago when Zoya was born. History seemed to be repeating itself!

Left with no choice, they consented for the surgery. Zoya was admitted to the hospital and she was operated upon on 27th Jan, 2017. She underwent detethering of the spinal cord with excision of the bony spur and duraplasty, a complex surgery that requires great skill and expertise to perform. After the surgery, Zoya recovered well and was discharged from the hospital.

In due course, the weakness in her left leg appeared to have reduced to a large extent. She seemed to be her normal self again. Zoya and her parents met the doctors again for the last review in India on 9th Mar, 2017. The doctors explained to Zoya’s parents about the long terms effects of Zoya’s condition. They seemed to understand. For them, although guarded in their happiness, the best thing at the moment was that Zoya was doing well and she was going back home to Sudan on 12th Mar, 2017. What the future holds, only time will tell.

After all the stress over the course of a month, one could see the relief on Zoya’s mother’s face and the little girl was all smiles. At HTW, these are the moments for which we exist.

Disclaimer: This is an original case study. Patient names have been changed to protect their identity. This article contains facts that have been obtained from reliable sources but may be subject to change with time. The author will not be responsible in any way for the comments given by reader/s.

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