Chiari Malformation

Chiari Malformation

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Chiari malformations (CM) refer to structural abnormalities in which the lower section of the brain protrudes through an opening in the base of the skull and cerebellum, extending into the spinal canal. The cerebellum, responsible for balance control, normally resides above an opening in the skull called the foramen magnum, allowing the spinal cord to pass through. In cases of CM, a portion of the cerebellum descends below this opening into the upper spinal canal, resulting in the condition.

CM can occur due to an undersized or malformed skull, causing pressure on the brain and forcing the cerebellum downward into the spinal canal. Consequently, this pressure can affect the brain stem and spinal cord, potentially obstructing the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), the clear liquid that envelops and protects the brain and spinal cord.

Treatment of Chiari Malformations

If Chiari malformations are asymptomatic and don’t disrupt daily activities, no treatment is typically required. However, in cases where symptoms are present, medications may be prescribed to manage issues like pain.

Surgery is the sole treatment capable of correcting functional defects or halting the progression of damage to the central nervous system. For both Type I and Type II Chiari malformations, surgery aims to achieve two primary goals:

  1. Relieve pressure on the brain and spinal cord
  2. Re-establish normal fluid circulation through and around the affected area

Various surgical options are available for both adults and children with Chiari malformations.