You can have a Chiari malformation and never develop problems, but once symptoms appear, surgery is the primary treatment. The board-certified neurosurgeons at The Metropolitan Neurosurgery Group in Silver Spring, Maryland, have extensive experience in Chiari malformations. They see patients from around the world, they’ve published many articles, and as the director of the greater Washington Metropolitan Chiari Syringomyelia Foundation, Fraser Henderson, Sr., MD, sponsors regular Chiari malformation lectures. If you need expert surgical care for a Chiari malformation, call the office today.
Your spinal cord travels through an opening at the base of your skull and then connects with your brain. A Chiari malformation develops when a problem such as a structural defect in your skull or spine allows part of the brain to go through the opening.
When the brain pushes into the opening, it creates pressure that affects the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid. This can lead to a buildup of fluid in the spinal cord, a condition called syringomyelia, or in the brain, which is called hydrocephalus.
There are four types of Chiari malformations:
When symptoms develop in a patient with a type I Chiari malformation, they experience problems such as:
If you have a type II malformation, you may have involuntary eye movements, loss of arm strength, or brief periods when you stop breathing.
Type III and type IV are rare and serious types of Chiari malformations. Infants with type III may have all the symptoms of type II, as well as developmental delays, seizures, and herniation of the brain through an abnormal opening in the back of the skull. Unfortunately, the underdeveloped brain in those with a type IV Chiari malformation means they seldom survive infancy.
When you don’t have symptoms, your Chiari malformation may not need treatment. Once treatment is necessary, however, surgery is your only option. Your neurosurgeon may perform procedures such as:
If you need expert treatment for a Chiari malformation, call The Metropolitan Neurosurgery Group.