As we mentioned on our main site, Chiari Malformation is an increasingly more common condition that impacts the brain. Aside from affecting your balance, Chiari Malformation can cause severe pain, headaches and even paralysis, and should be treated with the help of a certified neurosurgeon. Today, we’re going to look at some of the stages and types of Chiari Malformation, and how a doctor can fix the issue.
Types of Chiari Malformation
Chiari Malformation is graded based on its stage of progression. Here’s a closer look at the four common types of Chiari Malformation.
Type I – Type I Chiari Malformation is the most commonly observed type in children and adolescents. Type I is categorized by part of the cerebellum extending into the foramen magnum – an opening at the base of the skull. In a healthy child, only the spinal cord passes through the foramen magnum. It is also the only type of Chiari Malformation that can be acquired.
Type II – This type of Chiari Malformation is typically only seen in children born with spina bifida, an incomplete development of the spinal cord. Type II is often classified as the “common” type of Chiari Malformation. In this case, both the cerebellum and the brain stem extend into the foramen magnum.
Type III – This type is viewed as the most serious form of the condition. It is categorized by a herniation of the cerebellum and brain stem through the foramen magnum and into the spinal cord, and it can cause severe neurological defects. Thankfully, it’s a very rare type.
Type IV – Type IV Chiari Malformation involves an underdeveloped or incomplete cerebellum, and may be associated with exposed parts of the skull. This condition is even more rare than Type III.
Treatment Options For Chiari Malformation
If you believe you are dealing with Chiari Malformation, or your doctor suspects it may be causing your issues, he or she will preform a physical exam. They’ll also use imaging techniques to confirm the diagnosis. Once they’ve uncovered the root cause and determined the type of Chairi Malformation you’re dealing with, they’ll move forward with a treatment plan. Sometimes medication can help with symptoms, but only surgery can address the underlying problem.
In Type I and Type II Chiari Malformation, the goal of surgery is two-fold:
- To relieve pressure on the brain and spinal cord
- To re-establish regular fluid circulation in the area
Some common types of operation used to address Chiari Malformation include:
Spinal Laminectomy – Removal of part of the spinal canal to reduce pressure.
Electrocautery – High frequency electrical currents help shrink the lower part of the cerebellum.
Posterior Fossa Decompression – Removal of a small part of the bottom of the skull and possibly addressing the spinal column to relieve pressure.
Other operations may be preformed should you have a more significant case of Chiari Malformation. The operations may sound intense, but recent statistics show that surgery virtually eliminates symptoms in 50 percent of pediatric cases. 45 percent of patients notice a substantial reduction in symptoms, while the remaining five percent notice symptom stabilization.
For more information on the condition and surgical options, contact a neurological specialist today.