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Spina Bifida Program

Contact number | 202-476-7762
young girl with spina bifida

The Dream Team

We've put together a multi-disciplinary team of experts to provide the best care possible for our spina bifida patients, in one location.

Meet us
The Spina Bifida Program at Children’s National Hospital is a leader in caring for infants, children and teenagers with abnormalities in the spine and spinal cord. We treat all forms of spina bifida, including:
  • Spina bifida occulta (mild form of the disease)
  • Meningocele (moderate form of the disease)
  • Myelomeningocele (severe form of the disease) 

Advanced and Comprehensive Spina Bifida Care

Features of the Spina Bifida Program at Children’s National include:

  • An emphasis on early intervention. We specialize in early recognition and early treatment of spina bifida to minimize complications for newborns and children, allowing them to grow healthy into adulthood.
  • Ease of comprehensive care. We bring together physicians from many specialties, including our colleagues in Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine, so patients and families can be evaluated and advised comprehensively on the same day by all members of the care team.
  • Advancing care through research. We are always looking for ways to improve the care we offer to our patients. Children’s research team conducts research related to spina bifida and other neural tube defects in hopes of preventing future cases of the disease. 

Our team offers many treatment options for patients with spina bifida to prevent infection and preserve the spinal cord and any exposed nerves. Treatment options include:

  • Braces and splints
  • Education for parents to help them manage their child’s condition at home
  • Medications
  • Positioning aids to help children sit, stand, and lie down
  • Rehabilitation
  • Surgery (if needed), including:
    • Bowel and bladder surgery
    • Orthopaedic surgery to treat issues such as curvatures in the spine, ankle, and foot deformities, contracted muscles and hip dislocations
    • Repair and closure of lesions on the back
    • Treatment for hydrocephalus (excessive fluid in the brain) 

We've put together a multidisciplinary team of experts to provide the best care possible for our patients, in one location. Our spina bifida team includes specialists in:

Follow Up Care

There will be appointments scheduled with the multidisciplinary team, which includes urology, orthopedic surgery, neurosurgery, pediatric rehabilitation, and the spina bifida registered nurse and nurse practitioner. 

  • Infants and toddlers need to be seen in our clinic every 3-6 months
  • Children need to be seen every year
  • In some cases, your child may need to be seen more often.

In the first five years of life, you can expect the following tests: 

  • Lab studies 
  • Bladder function tests (called urodynamics)
  • X-rays and scans
    • Ultrasounds
    • Nuclear kidney scans (called DMSA)
    • MRIs

Contact Us

For more information about our Spina Bifida Program, email us or call 202-476-7762. Ultrasound, X-ray, MRI and laboratory services are available on our main campus as well as our Prince George's County location.

Spina Bifida Program Team

  • Christina Ho

    Christina Ho
    Co-Director, Spina Bifida Program

  • Hans Pohl

    Hans Pohl
    Division Chief, Urology
    Co-director, Spina Bifida Program

  • Briony Varda, M.D.

    Briony Varda
    Co-Director, Spina Bifida Program

  • Robert Keating

    Robert Keating
    Division Chief, Neurosurgery

  • John Myseros, MD, Neurosurgeon

    John Myseros
    Vice Chief, Neurosurgery

  • Matthew Oetgen

    Matthew Oetgen
    Division Chief, Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
    Spine, Hip and Orthopaedic Trauma Specialist

  • Children's National Hospital

    Andrew Combs
    Physician Assistant

  • Leslie Phillips

    Leslie Phillips
    Rehabilitation Specialist

  • Mi Ran Shin

    Mi Ran Shin
    Associate Fellowship Program Director, Rehabilitation Medicine
    Associate Medical Director, Safe Kids DC
    Pediatric Rehabilitation Specialist

  • Christina Chen

    Christina Chen
    Nurse Practitioner

  • kaitlin dunn np

    Kaitlin Scarpaci
    Advanced Practice Clinical Manager, Urology
    Nurse Practitioner

  • Celicia Little

    Celicia Little
    Spina Bifida Program Coordinator, Director of Spina Bifida Transition, Nurse Practitioner

  • Christine Macalinao

    Christine Macalinao
    Nurse Practitioner

  • Mary Micker

    Mary Micker
    Nurse Practitioner

  • Nicole Allentuck

    Nicole Allentuck
    Spina Bifida Care Coordinator