Types of Chiari Malformation
Type I: the upper spinal area and base of the skull are not formed properly.
Type II: a portion of the brain moves down through the bottom of the skull. Myelomeningocele, a severe form of spina bifida, is always present with Type II chiari malformations.
Type III: the most serious type of chiari malformation involves the protrusion or herniation of the hind part of the brain through a defect in the skull.
Diagnosis of Chiari Malformation
The chiari malformation diagnostic process begins with a complete medical history examination and physical examination. The process is followed by a neurological evaluation that will identify specific symptoms and neurological functioning. A Chiari 1 Malformation may have a normal examination. In such a case, determining if Chiari is indeed the problem and if surgery is indeed the best solution becomes difficult. Abnormal neurological examinations identifying patterns of findings will help make linking the problem directly to the brain stem and cervical spinal cord.
Patients may have difficulty with eye movements, balance, sensation, strength and coordination. The reflexes may be too active or not nearly active. Pathological reflexes may also be detected. An MRI is the best diagnostic tool for detecting Chiari malformations.
Treatment of Chiari Malformations
Patients with Chiari malformations do not always show symptoms. Some symptoms of Chiari malformations, such as headache and dizziness, may be treated effectively by medication. It is best to consider surgery when the malformation produces symptoms that interfere with a person’s quality of life. Chiari malformation surgery creates more room for the brain, and relieves compression of the brain stem and spinal cord. This allows the spinal fluid to travel