The management of orthopedic problems in spina bifida has seen a dramatic change over the past 10 years. The negative effects of spasticity, poor balance, and the tethered cord syndrome on ambulatory function are better appreciated. There is less emphasis on the hip radiograph and more emphasis on the function of the knee and the prevention of knee pain. The importance of the hip abductor muscle and its influence on gait and knee function has been realized. Important developments in the treatment of spinal deformity include the use of pedicle screws which allow better correction. The role of anterior-only spinal surgery has been defined, which allows motion at the lumbo-sacral junction and has a lower postoperative infection rate than posterior surgery. Functional outcome assessments provide better feedback for surgeons and families in regards to which patients may benefit most from surgery. Overall, the past 10 years has seen the increased use of functional outcome measures such as Motion Analysis, oxygen consumption, and patient-based outcome assessments rather than traditional radiographic measures (e.g., hip dislocation or subluxation). This progress has resulted in a better understanding of spina bifida and, more importantly, improved outcomes for our patients. Additional research is likely to further enhance outcomes by establishing additional evidence-based interventions.
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