Chiari malformation is a group of defects affecting the brain and spinal canal. The skull may be too small or misshapen, causing the brain tissue to extend into the spinal canal.
It can cause pain, trouble swallowing, headache, and more.
If the condition does not cause a person any problems, they will not require treatment. However, if it is affecting them, a doctor can recommend treatment options ranging from medication to surgery.
Read more to learn about the different types of Chiari malformation, symptoms, how it is diagnosed, treatment options, and more.
Chiari malformation is a condition where part of the brain tissue at the base of the skull pushes into the top of the spinal canal.
The condition is present from birth. However, not all people with Chiari malformation know that they have it. If they do not have symptoms, it can go unnoticed.
According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), slightly less than 1 in every 1,000 people have Chiari malformation. This is 0.1% of the population.
There are four different types of Chiari malformation.
This is the most common form of the condition. People with type 1 usually experience symptoms in late childhood and adulthood.
They may have symptoms including:
- neck pain
- balance and coordination problems
However, this type often causes no symptoms at all and is found incidentally later in life. For this reason, it is also called adult Chiari malformation.
Type 2 is the second most common form of the condition and is also called classic Chiari malformation. In people with this type, a larger amount of tissue pushes into the spinal canal.
It often happens alongside a type of spina bifida called myelomeningocele. This condition affects the spinal membranes and nerves, resulting in the spinal canal and backbone not closing properly.
This type causes more severe symptoms than type 1, and it requires surgery. Some symptoms include:
- difficulty swallowing
- breathing changes
- weakness in the extremities
Type 3 is very rare and happens when a lower part of the brain protrudes through the back of the head or neck. Unfortunately, this type is usually fatal and is diagnosed at birth.
People with type 3 who survive infancy may experience:
- neurological defects
- developmental delays
This is where the cerebellum, part of the back of the brain, is …….