Chiari I Malformations

 

Examples of normal versus Chiari-1 malformation.

Some cases may not look this severe on MRI,

but some may look worse.

Diagram courtesy of Conquer Chiari

In Chiari I Malformations, essentially there is extra cerebellum crowding the outlet of the brainstem/spinal cord from the skull on its way to the spinal canal. This crowding will commonly lead to headaches, neck pain, strange feelings in the arms and/or legs, loss of muscle strength in the hands or arms, drop attacks--collapsing to the ground due to muscle weakness, balance problems, double or blurred vision, stiffness, and less often will cause difficulties with swallowing or gagging.  A person may have several of those symptoms.  Many other symptoms may present themselves as well.  Often the symptoms are made worse with straining. The patient should have an MRI if this is suspected. 

Sometimes these malformations can be made worse by, or can cause hydrocephalus. In addition they can often lead to fluid filled cavities in the spinal cord known as syrinxes which can injure the spinal cord and function.   Untreated, the chronic crowding of the brainstem and spinal cord can lead to very serious consequences including paralysis and syrinxes.  This condition always requires surgery.

Jennifer Hendricks Story - Chiari  I  Malformation Repaired

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