A Chiari malformation is a problem with the position of the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance, movement, and coordination. The cerebellum and parts of the brain stem are normally in a space in the lower back part of the skull. A Chiari malformation happens when the cerebellum and brain stem are pushed downward into the spinal column.
A Chiari malformation puts pressure on the cerebellum and brain stem, which can cause dizziness, weakness, and other neurological symptoms. It can also block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, a clear liquid that surrounds and protects the brain and spinal cord.
While some Chiari malformations can develop over time, most are caused by structural problems in the brain at birth. This includes Chiari type 1 and type 2 malformations. Chiari type I malformations, the most common type; symptoms are usually first noticed during adolescence or adulthood. Chiari type II malformation symptoms usually appear during childhood.
Many patients with Chiari malformations have no symptoms, while others have minor pain, which can be controlled with medication. For patients with more severe symptoms, CentraState offers an advanced procedure called suboccipital decompression. The procedure is helping patients with this potentially disabling disorder get back to their full, active lives.