[Skip to Navigation]
February 1967


Author Affiliations

From the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Division of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Am J Dis Child. 1967;113(2):210-213. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1967.02090170074005

IN DIASTEMATOMYELIA, a segment of the spinal cord and meninges is divided longitudinally into two discrete portions. The splitting is congenital and is caused by a bony or fibrocartilaginous spicule that arises from the vertebral body and transfixes the cord. There is usually neurologic deficit, and associated cutaneous and skeletal defects are common.

A personal experience (A.F.S.) with 11 surgically verified cases prompted this report.

Etiology and Pathophysiology  The term diastematomyelia (Greek: diastemato—split, myelia—nerve) was coined by Hertwig in 1892 to describe defects in amphibian embryos.1 A sagittal splitting of the embryo's dorsum allows the underlying yolk material to bulge through. The head and tail regions are spared and only that neural ectoderm which gives rise to the spinal cord is affected. The cleft also involves the notochord, the nonneural ectoderm, and the mesenchymal supporting elements (Fig 1).The cause of the defect is not known. Gardner

Add or change institution