Chiari Malformation and Chiari Decompression Surgery

What is a Chiari Malformation?

Chiari malformation is a condition in which the lower part of the brain, called the cerebellum, extends into the upper spinal canal. This can cause a variety of symptoms including headache, neck pain, numbness and tingling in the arms and legs, and difficulty with balance and coordination.

If conservative treatments such as medications and physical therapy are not effective in managing your symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery to correct the Chiari malformation. This type of surgery is called a Chiari decompression surgery.

What is a Chiari Decompression Surgery?

During a Chiari decompression surgery, the surgeon will make a small incision in the back of the neck and remove a small piece of bone from the bottom of the skull and the top of the spine. This creates more space for the cerebellum and allows cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to flow more freely. The surgeon may also remove a small piece of tissue from the covering of the brain (dura) to create more space.

Recovering from Chiari Decompression Surgery

Recovery from Chiari decompression surgery typically takes several weeks. You may experience some pain and discomfort after the surgery, which can be managed with pain medication. You may also need to wear a neck brace for a period of time to help support the neck as it heals. Physical therapy may be recommended to help you regain strength and mobility.

It’s important to follow your surgeon’s instructions and attend all follow-up appointments to ensure the best possible outcome. Most people experience significant improvement in their symptoms after Chiari decompression surgery, although it may take several months to see the full benefits.

If you have been diagnosed with a Chiari malformation and are considering surgery, it’s important to discuss the potential risks and benefits with your surgeon. They will be able to provide you with more information about the specific procedure and what you can expect during your recovery.

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