Chiari malformations (CMs) are anatomical defects in the cerebellum, which is responsible for balance. The cerebellum is located at the base of the skull, where the brain and spine connect, and contains a small bony space, which when abnormally small, creates a Chiari malformation. This puts pressure on the cerebellum and brain stem which affect functions controlled by these areas and blocks the flow of cerebrospinal fluid to and from the brain.
CM is primarily congenital. It can be acquired later on in life if spinal fluids are drained excessively from the lumbar or thoracic regions due to injury/trauma, chemical exposure or infection.
CM’s are classified by severity and the parts of the brain that are affected. They are classified from Type I to Type IV with IV being the most severe.
Dr. Yashar will perform a physical exam and check memory, cognition, balance (a function controlled by the cerebellum), touch, reflexes, sensation, and motor skills (functions controlled by the spinal cord). Dr. Yashar may also order imaging studies to confirm the presence of a CM.
Some patients do not exhibit any symptoms associated with CM. However, patient that have symptoms, medications may ease certain symptoms, such as pain.
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Surgical treatment of CM’s is currently the only option to Surgery is the only treatment available to fix functional disturbances or halt the progression of damage to the central nervous system. Most individuals who have surgery see a reduction in their symptoms and/or prolonged periods of relative stability. More than one surgery may be needed to treat the condition.
Dr. Yashar offers a procedure called Chiari Decompression.
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