Monday, July 8, 2013

Tethered Spinal Cord

                I wanted to do a tethered spinal cord as one of the first posts I did, because my child had this syndrome. My youngest son was born with a sacral dimple. This is a tall tale sign that further examination should be done on the spine. The day of my son's birth his doctors were thorough, and found this sign. After a few months of tests going by, we were told that they recommended surgery because he has a tethered spinal cord. First thoughts that went through our heads was that we didn't want our child to have to be traumatized by a surgery at this age. After a consultation with the surgeon at Riley Hospital for Children, my wife and I had decided that surgery was really the only option. We were lead to this thought through some great explanations by his doctor. 

                So what is a tethered spinal cord? Simply, it is where the spinal cord (the cord of nerves that run along the spine) is attached to the fatty tissue (view above picture), or other part of the body. So what does this mean for my kid? Well, it means that as he grows the connection can stretch his spinal cord and cause back pain, fecal/urinary incontinence, cysts, and trouble walking. But unfortunately that is not all of what can happen. There is many things that can happen when the spinal cord stretches and straightens, you can read more at some of the sites I will source at the bottom of the post. This is what made the decision easier for us… as parents we could not let our child grow and have these complications and have this pain the rest of his life. So, from there we went ahead and had them do a surgery on him. He is now doing Very well, has fully recovered, and doesn't seem to know/mind that he has a small scar on his back. At a year old at the beginning of this month, he is walking around, making noise, and tackling his older sister. If you didn’t know any better he is a healthy child.
                When he went in for his surgery we were told that he needed to lay flat after the surgery was over so that he would not get a spinal headache. We told the nurses that he doesn't like to do this, so what would keep him from sitting up, and they kept telling us that he would either be in too much pain or be too tired from medication that he would not want to try to sit up or move. And to no surprise to us (but to the surprise of the nurses) the moment they laid him in the recovery bed he got up and crawled to the other side of the bed. Honestly, that was the hardest part for us, keeping him from sitting up causing headaches.
                So what would have happened if we did not have the surgery? Well lets go into more detail of everything than. The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that run down the vertebrae in the spine. This bundle of nerves send signals back and forth between parts of the body and the brain. Since the attachment is lower in the body the stretching effects lower body functions. These areas would include, but not limited to, bladder, legs, black, and bowels. Not only could Jett, my son, have grown with back pain, weakness, numbness, and pain in the legs, bowl and bladder incontinence. He may have never learned to walk, we may never had gotten him potty trained, and then the pains would be excruciating.

Thank you Boston Children's Hospital for the use of your image and information.
Boston Children's Hospital:

Other information sources:

And an extra THANK YOU to Riley Hospital for Children and the wonderful Doctors, nurses, and other staff.

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