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         Like any part of the human body, the spine can be affected by congenital disorders. Congenital problems are defects in the anatomy that are present at birth.  They are usually due to defects related to the formation of the fetus.  Such defects can alter the anatomy of the spine that can affect its normal alignment and the related structures in and around the spine.  

          Some defects can be detected early at birth or sometimes symptoms manifest much later in life.  Many individuals reach a ripe old age without even realizing that they have congenital problems of the spine.  Not all congenital defects will be symptomatic.   

            Congenital spine problems will usually manifest in the following order.

Deformity      - as the earliest and most common

                          sign and symptom of congenital

                          defects.  Very early at birth some

                          defects can be detected already.

                          Many will be obvious in early 

                          childhood when the child is already

                          active and abnormal posturing can

                          be easily noticed.

Weakness      - unusual onset of weakness from 

                         very mild trauma or even none at all

                         will usually elicit grave concern.  

                         This symptom is usually caused by 

                         compression of the spinal cord or

                         nerve  roots  due  to  "instability"  of

                         the spine because of a defect in

                         either or both the static or dynamic

                         stabilizers of the spine.

Paralysis        -sudden paralysis can happen in

                         instabilities  that  are  caused  by

                         congenital spine defects.  This is 

                         often preceded by unexplained

                         progressive  weakness  in  an

                         otherwise normal and healthy

                         young child.  Immediate medical

                         consult should be sought when this


Pain                - Pain is not a common complaint in

                         patients with congenital defects 

                         unless inflammation of the neural

                         tissues and other parts of the spine 

                         is  triggered  by  compression  or 

                         instability  of  the  spine  anatomy.

    Congenital defects to the spine are easily detected nowadays because of good imaging technology at hand.  Your spine specialists would normally order one or combination of all these labs to fully evaluate your spine and offer the best management.

                       - X-Rays
                       - CT Scans and 3-D reconstructions
                       - MRI



     This is a sample of how a congenital failure in the formation of a vertebra results in a "hemivertebra."  The hemivertebra affects the growth of the other vertebrae resulting in a congenital scoliosis

Copyright UPMC Spine Specialists (2012) Manila, Philippines

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Many illustrations in this Web Page were borrowed from open source Netter Anatomical Illustrations and the Sobotta Atlas of Human Anatomy.  However most of the original borrowed illustrations may not be recognized anymore.  Most of them were digitally modified and altered to serve the purposes of discussions and explanations contained within this web.

Other illustrations are originally drawn by the Webmaster.

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