How is Chiari malformation treated?
Your doctor will make a treatment plan based on the severity of symptoms. If symptoms are mild, your doctor will monitor your health with regular MRIs.
More severe cases may need surgery. Surgical procedures to treat Chiari malformation include:
- Posterior fossa decompression: This is the most common procedure to treat Chiari malformation. A surgeon relieves pressure on the brain, giving it more room, by removing a part of the back of the skull called the posterior fossa.
- Laminectomy: Depending on how severe the Chiari malformation is, the surgeon may also need to remove a small portion of bones covering the spinal column to restore the flow of cerebrospinal fluid and allow more room for the spinal cord.
- Duraplasty: In this decompression surgery, the surgeon opens the dura (a membrane on the outside of brain). Then the surgeon sews in a patch to make the membrane larger so the brain has more room. This procedure enlarges the area and relieves pressure on the brain.
- Electrocautery: To create more room and allow the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to drain, surgeons may apply a small amount of electricity to shrink a small part of the brain called the cerebellar tonsils. The cerebellar tonsils retract without causing neurologic damage.