Embryology Applied to Neural Tube Defects (NTDs)

  • Martin Catala


Spina bifida is a frequent congenital malformation involving the spinal cord. It was first described by Nicolas Tulp in 1651 (Figs. 2.1 and 2.2). Nicolas Tulp is also famous for the portrait Rembrandt painted of him during his anatomical lessons. The term spina bifida was suggested by Tulp and proposed solely to describe the vertebral anomaly that was considered a duplication of the spinous process of the vertebra. In fact, we will see that this interpretation is incorrect. However, the term spina bifida is still in use. Nowadays, spina bifida belongs to a super-family of malformations called neural tube defects (NTDs), which include anencephaly, exencephaly, encephaloceles and meningoceles.


Neural Tube Spina Bifida Neural Tube Defect Neural Crest Cell Neural Plate 
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© Springer-Verlag Italia 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Catala
    • 1
  1. 1.UMR Paris 6/CNRS Biologie du DéveloppementParisFrance

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