Home > Conditions > Chiara Malformations
Chiari I malformations occur when part of the brain—the cerebellar tonsils—extends down into the base of the skull. This extension of tissue happens when part of the skull is small or misshapen and presses on the brain. This can lead to an abnormal spinal fluid flow and can create direct pressure on the brainstem. These malformations usually occur without any known cause.
Symptoms of Chiari Malformations:
Though some patients may never experience symptoms from Chiari malformations, the most common symptom reported is headaches in the back of the head and the neck that are increased by coughing or sneezing. Because Chiari malformations are in the part of the brain that controls balance, symptoms often include balance and coordination issues. Sometimes Chiari malformations can lead to cysts along the spinal cord. Other symptoms may occur, depending on the development of these cysts. These can include:
- Weakness and numbness in the hands and arms
- Lack of coordination
- Double vision
- Difficulty swallowing
- Involuntary eye movements
Chiari malformations form at birth, but symptoms are usually seen in late childhood or early adulthood. The most common way to diagnose a Chiari malformation is an MRI.