Writing & Editing for MedicineNet.com Is Work!

I am proceeding through the alphabet, editing terms in the medical dictionary. Right now, I am immured in the M's -- buried in them, like up to my neck in the sand of terms starting with the letter M.

The first definition I see this morning is:

  • Meningomyelocele: Protrusion of the membranes that cover the spine and some of the spinal cord itself, due to spina bifida, a defect in the bony encasement of the vertebral column. See also spina bifida.

Well, that does not seem quite right, I think, but why? The membranes (also referred to as meninges) are not all that protrudes through the defect in the vertebral column. The spinal cord is also protruding. And that is why it is called a meningomyelocele (meningo- for the meningeal membranes and -myelo- for the spinal cord).

I try again.

  • Meningomyelocele: Protrusion of the spinal cord and the membranes covering it through a defect in the vertebral column. Sometimes called a myelomeningocele. See also spina bifida.

But that says nothing about the cause of the problem - or what it looks like - or how it might be detected before birth, so it's back to the grindstone to sharpen it up a bit more.

  • Meningomyelocele: Protrusion of the spinal cord and the membranes covering it through a defect in the vertebral column. This is due to failure of the neural tube to close during fetal development. The infant is born with a defect in the lumbar section of the spine through which bulges a skin-covered sac containing the meninges (the membranes) and part of the spinal cord. This neural tube defect can sometimes be suspected prenatally by elevation in the mother's blood level of AFP and confirmed by ultrasound. Sometimes called a myelomeningocele. See also AFP, meninges, neural tube defect, spina bifida.