Chiari Malformation

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Chiari malformation is a serious neurological disorder where the bottom part of the brain, descends out of the skull and crowds the spinal cord, putting pressure on both the brain and spine, causing many symptoms.

What can cause chiara malformation (CM).

CM has different causes. It can be caused by structural defects in the brain and spinal cord that occur during fetal development, whether caused by genetic mutations or lack of proper vitamins or nutrients in the maternal diet. This is called primary or congenital (CM). It can also be caused later in life if spinal fluid is drained excessively from the lumbar or thoracic areas of the spine due to injury, exposure to harmful substances, or infections. this is called acquired or secondary (CM).


1. Han’s Chiari first identified the disorder in the 1890’s

2. Cause unknown, believed to be a congenital condition.

3. Affects people of all ages, usually diagnosed in children and adults in late 20’s-30’s.

4. Three Primary types of (CM) 

Type 1-This is the most common type, it may not cause symptoms and is often found by accident during an examination for another condition.

Type 2-This type is also called Arnold-Chiari malformation is usually accompanied by a myelomeningocele-a form of spina bifida that occurs when the spinal canal and backbone do not close before birth, causing the spinal cord to protrude through an opening in the back. This can cause partial or complete paralysis below the spinal opening.

Type 3-This is the most serious form of (CM) and causes severe neurological defects, other conditions some times associated with CM include hydrocephalus, syringomyelia, and spinal curvature. 


Medications may ease certain symptoms, such as pain. Surgery is the only treatment available to correct functional disturbances or halt the progression of damage to the central nervous system. More than one surgery may be needed to treat the condition.


Many people with type 1 (CM) are asymptomatic and do not know they have the condition. Many patients with the more severe types of CM and have surgery, see a reduction in their symptoms and /or prolonged periods of relative stability, although paralysis is generally permanent.

As a parent of an (adult) child with (CM) I know how difficult it can be to get the proper diagnosis of this disease and the pain it has on the patient and the emotional pain for all family members involved.

Please contact the (ASAP) American Syringomyelia & Chiari Alliance Project for more information and where you can find help for all involved.


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