Chiari malformations (CMs) are a structural change occurring in the area where the brain and spinal cord meet, resulting the brain’s cerebellum and sometimes brainstem protruding below the foramen magnum, located at the skull’s base. Providing compassionate care to the tri-state area from our locations in New Jersey and New York, IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics boasts a dedicated medical team specializing in cutting-edge, innovative technology to treat a variety of brain conditions like CMs. We are standing by to help you or your loved one find an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment plan.
Symptoms and Causes of CMs
When the space for the brain’s cerebellum is too small, this can cause CMs to form. The brainstem may then be pushed down into the foramen magnum, along with the upper portion of the spinal canal. Causing pressure, this can create cerebrospinal fluid blockage, as well as symptoms like:
- Neck pain
- Muscle numbness and weakness
- Trouble swallowing or speaking
Depending on the patient, symptoms may not present at all. Further, changing symptoms can occur due to nerve and tissue pressure from cerebrospinal fluid, so it’s important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
While the cause of this malformation is unknown, it’s considered to be a congenital condition. Typically, this is due to a genetic syndrome, poor maternal diet, or the use of harmful substances during pregnancy. Sometimes, an injury or infection can also be the cause of the malformation.
Doctors classify CMs based on how far the condition has progressed. The four stages include:
- Type I: The most common type of CM, this is characterized by the cerebellar tonsils being beneath the foramen magnum.
- Type II: This type is when areas of the back of the brain shift downward through the bottom of the skull. Type II malformations are often associated with other congenital anomalies such as spina bifida, hydrocephalus, and myelomeningocele.
- Type III: Acute neurological defects and life-threatening complications can arise at this stage. Sections of the cerebellum and/or brainstem may protrude through a defect in the back of the neck or head.
- Type IV: This type is rare and severe. In this case, the brain has not developed to its full, normal state.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Usually, this condition is present at birth. After tests such as an X-ray, MRI, and CT scan have been performed, a more conclusive diagnosis can be made. Treatment for CMs varies on the individual. In asymptomatic cases, treatment is not required. When symptoms are present, local surgery to remove bone to decompress the brain, dura, and spinal cord can be performed, as well as resection of the cerebellar tissue if necessary.
Learn More about CM Treatment in NJ and NY
At IGEA Brain, Spine & Orthopedics, we’re equipped to treat conditions like Chiari malformations. Our award-winning medical team is dedicated to providing you or your loved one with top-quality, compassionate care – with the added convenience of receiving treatment in New Jersey or New York. To schedule an appointment, contact us today.