Chiari malformations, structural defects in the brain that controls balance, can be difficult to diagnose, since the symptoms can be vague, or there may be no symptoms at all.

Symptoms

Most people suffering from Chiari malformation, symptoms can be vague or there may be no symptoms at all. Most Chiari malformation is detected only when tests are performed for unrelated disorders. However, depending on the type and severity, Chiari malformation can cause a number of problems.

Chiari Malformation Type I
People with Chiari malformation type I can experience the following symptoms:

  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • numbness
  • vision problems
  • headaches
  • problems with balance and coordination

Chiari Malformation Type II
In Chiari malformation type II, more tissue extends into the spinal canal and the symptoms can include those related to myelomeningocele, a condition in which the backbone and the spinal canal haven’t closed properly before birth.

  • Changes in breathing pattern
  • Swallowing problems, such as gagging
  • numbness
  • Quick downward eye movements
  • Weakness in arms
  • Severe headache

Chiari Malformation Type III
In the more severe Chiari malformation type III, a portion of the lower back part of the brain (cerebellum) or the brain stem extends through an abnormal opening in the back of the skull. This is often diagnosed at birth or by an ultrasound during pregnancy.

Diagnosis

If you or your child has any of the signs and symptoms that may be associated with Chiari malformation, contact your primary physician or experienced and expert neurosugeon Burak Ozgur, MD. Definitive diagnosis can only be made after an MRI scan, where the abnormal protrusion of the cerebellum toward the spinal cord can be revealed. Many symptoms of Chiari malformation can also be associated with other disorders, a thorough medical evaluation is imperative.

Treatment

Treatment may not be necessary at all when no Chiari malformation symptoms are present. When an asymptomic patient is diagnosed with Chiari malformation type I, regular monitoring by your neurosurgeon Burak Ozgur, MD may be all that’s needed.
Chiari malformation type I is rarely progressive. If patients show progressive symptoms and treatment is necessary, safe and minimally invasive surgical procedure can be done to relieve the pressure on the site of compression or the spinal column. Dr. Ozgur’s results of treatment for Chiari malformation type I is excellent, with the majority of patients experiencing partial or complete resolution with few or no complications.



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