Chiari Malformation

Chiari Malformation Condition/Diagnosis Overview:

Imagine you are trying to squeeze the last bit of toothpaste onto your toothbrush. Your brain being the toothpaste, your hands being the skull, and the opening of the tube being the beginning of your spinal canal. What this specific condition does is that your skull is abnormally small or misshapen, which causes it to squeeze the brain and force it downward into your spinal canal. There are three types of this disease:

Type I: Occurs as the skull and brain are growing so the individual may not experience symptoms until they are reaching adulthood. Can be cause by the size and shape of the skull.

Type II: The more common of the three types, occurs from birth and is genetically passed down (passed down from family members through reproduction). This type is usually seen when a child is observed in the womb through ultrasound. Most often caused by a type of Spina Bifida called myelomeningocele.

Type III: Occurs when the cerebellum (lower back part of the brain) gets pushed into the spinal canal. Usually the type with the highest death rate.


Type I:
-Headaches (most common)
-Neck pain
-Unsteady gait (problems with balance)
-Poor hand coordination (fine motor skills)
-Numbness and tingling of the hands and feet
-Difficulty swallowing, sometimes accompanied by gagging, choking and vomiting
-Vision problems (blurred or double vision)
-Speech problems, such as hoarseness
-Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
-Slow heart rhythm
-Curvature of the spine (scoliosis) related to spinal cord impairment
-Abnormal breathing, such as central sleep apnea, characterized by periods of breathing
cessation during sleep

Type II:
-Changes in breathing pattern
-Swallowing problems, such as gagging
-Quick downward eye movements
-Weakness in arms

Type III:
-Neurological problems

Normally patients can be treated through conservative techniques such as pain management through medications, while in more serious cases a surgical solution is more highly recommended.