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ChiarI 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:

  • Headaches
  • Weakness and numbness in the hands and arms
  • Dizziness
  • 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.

Treatment For Chiari Malformations:

If patients’ symptoms are mild, medication may be the only treatment needed for Chiari malformations. However, for those with severe symptoms or other neurological issues, surgery may be needed.

  • Surgery for Chiari malformations includes removing a portion of the skull so that a neurosurgeon can create more room in the brain. This takes pressure off the brainstem caused by the enlarged Chiari malformation and can help restore the normal flow of spinal fluid.

Treatment for Chiari malformations will depend on the malformation’s size and location, as well as each patient’s symptoms.

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We specialize in Chiari Malformation Treatment.

At Nashville Neurosurgery Associates, we are proud to be one of the region’s leading neurosurgical centers. Our team of board-certified surgeons provide expert care and treatment of Chiari malformations.

REX ARENDALL, MD

Board-Certified Neurosurgeon

ROBBI L. FRANKLIN, MD

Board-Certified Neurosurgeon

ARTHUR J. ULM, MD

Board-Certified Neurosurgeon

KHAN LI, MD

Board-Certified Neurosurgeon

CHINE SP LOGAN, DO, MHA, MS, FACS, FACOS

Board-Certified Neurosurgeon

ROBERT A. MERICLE, MD, FAANS

Board-Certified Neurosurgeon

WILLIAM SCHOOLEY, MD

Board-Certified Neurosurgeon

KARL SILLAY, MD

Board-Certified Neurosurgeon

IVAN T. STOEV, MD

Board-Certified Neurosurgeon

CHRISTOPHER STOREY, MD, PHD

Fellowship Trained Neurosurgeon

Carter Harkins

Carter had severe lumbar back pain and radiating pain down his legs. One day when he couldn’t feel his legs, he went to the hospital where he was diagnosed with severe spinal occlusion. Dr. Mericle performed spinal surgery to repair Carter’s spine. He has since returned to his normal activities!

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