Chiari Malformation

Simplified Explanation

A Chiari malformation occurs when part of the brain gets pushed down through the base of the skull due to the structural development of the bones or pressure on the brain. Symptoms can range, but include neck pain, balance problems, muscle weakness, numbness or other abnormal feelings in the arms or legs, dizziness, vision problems, difficulty swallowing, ringing or buzzing in the ears, hearing loss, vomiting, insomnia, depression, or headache made worse by coughing or straining. Hand coordination and fine motor skills may be affected. Chiari’s can cause health issues such as hydrocephalus (see above), syrinx, and central sleep apnea (see airway).


Posterior fossa decompression (aka Chiari decompression) surgery is used to treat a Chiari malformation. Where part of the bone is removed from the back of the skull and spine.

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