A three-year-old girl in Taiwan was recently taken to the doctor for removal of a tuft of hair on her lower back. (Agencies)
She was diagnosed with split spinal cord - a condition known as diastematomyelia - as well as a fluid-filled cyst in the spinal cord, called syringomyelia.
Some of her spinal fluid was also leaking out onto the skin surface, said a report in The New England Journal of Medicine.
Post-surgery, the Taiwanese girl has normal cognitive development and has no difficulty walking, said the researchers from National Taiwan University Hospital.
“These markings can include excessive hair (especially shaped like a horses tail), thin skin, dimples or small skin appendages that look like a tail,” Toba N. Niazi, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Miami Children's Hospital, was quoted as saying.
Nearly 80 percent of children with occult spinal dysraphism have some type of skin marking, Niazi added.
These malformations involve many body structures, including nerves, muscle, skin and bones, and that's why markings often appear on the skin surface, Niazi explained.
“It's a malformation of the whole way the spine and skin is formed in the affected area,” Niazi said.
If not treated early, occult spinal dysraphism can cause neurological problems or musculoskeletal deformities, the report added.
A three-year-old girl in Taiwan was recently taken to the doctor for removal of a tuft of hair on her lower back.