Arnold-Chiari Malformation is a condition in which the cerebellum portion
of the brain protrudes into the spinal canal. It may or may not be apparent at birth.
Arnold-Chiari I type malformation usually causes symptoms in young adults and is often
associated with syringomyelia, in which a tubular cavity develops within the spinal cord.
Arnold-Chiari II type malformation is associated with myelomeningocele (a defect of the
spine) and hydrocephalus (increased cerebrospinal fluid and pressure within the brain),
which usually are apparent at birth. Myelomeningocele usually causes paralysis of the legs
and, less commonly, the arms. If left untreated, hydrocephalus can cause mental
impairment. Either type of Arnold-Chiari Malformation can cause symptoms of headache,
vomiting, difficulty swallowing, and hoarseness.
Is there any treatment for Chiari Malformation
Infants and children with myelomeningocele may require surgery to repair protrusion of the meningeal sac into the spinal cord. Hydrocephalus may be treated with surgical implantation of a shunt to relieve increased pressure on the brain. Some adults with Arnold-Chiari Malformation may benefit from surgery in which the existing opening in the back of the skull is enlarged.
What is the prognosis for Chiari Malformation patients
Infants with very severe malformations may have life-threatening complications. Most patients who have surgery experience a reduction in their symptoms. Some patients may experience prolonged periods of relative stability.
What research is being done about Chiari Malformation
Research supported by the NINDS includes studies to understand how the
brain and nervous system normally develop and function and how they are affected by
disease and trauma. These studies contribute to a greater understanding of congenital
birth defects, such as Arnold-Chiari Malformation, and open promising new doors to