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Many patients with a Chiari Malformation are asymptomatic (they show no symptoms), or they experience symptoms which do not excessively interfere with the activities of daily living. In some cases, medications are used to manage symptoms such as pain.
The only treatment that can correct the functional deficits or stop the progression of damage to the nervous system is surgery. The goals of surgery are to relieve pressure on the brain and spinal cord, and to re-establish normal circulation of the Cerebrospinal Fluid. This is accomplished by creating more room around the malformation.
A variety of surgical procedures may be utilized to accomplish the goal. Your neurosurgeon may remove a small section of bone at the back of your skull, or in the upper cervical spine to make more room for the part of your brain which is affected by Chiari Malformation. (the cerebellum) In most cases, the covering of the brain may be enlarged with a patch. If you have fluid buildup in your brain, or a fluid filled cavity in the spine, you may also require a shunt to drain excess fluid.
Although rare, a patient may suffer from an "acquired" Chiari as a result of a cyst or tumor pressing the cerebral tonsils downward, or from drainage of spinal fluid down the spine. Drainage can be either related to a lumboperitoneal shunt or a dural sleeve. In these situations, surgical intervention to remove the causative problem can sometimes indirectly fix the Chiari without operating on the back of the neck.
The specifics of the appropriate surgery vary by case. As with symptoms and diagnosis, each case of Chiari Malformation is unique, and the selection of the correct surgical treatment is ultimately dependent upon the experience and judgment of your neurosurgeon.
If you suspect that you may suffer from Chiari Malformation, or if you exhibit the Chiari symptoms described here, we invite you to contact one of our campuses for evaluation and expert treatment.
LastUpdate: 2018-03-31 17:36:57