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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Chiari 1 Malformation

10/27/2010

Question:

I had a Cine MRI because of headaches, dizziness, and neuropathy. It said I had "inferior herniation of the bilateral cerebellar tonsils" almost to the posterior arch of C1. It is "compatible with Chiari type 1 hindbrain malformation." It also says I have very little/impaired "flow of CSF around the inferiorly herniated tonsils, and around the inferoir vermis."

Could the restricted CSF flow and herniated tonsils cause problems, get worse, or cause my symptoms? What would the treatment be?

Also, is tonsillar ectopia the same as Chiari?

I am especially concerned about this because I don`t have insurance, so every visit to the doctor, which is quite expensive, needs to be a productive one.

Answer:

An Arnold Chiari malformation, usually called a Chiari malformation is a congenital abnormality (birth defect) of the brain. The cerebellar tonsils (found at the base of the brain) are elongated (stretched out) and pushed down through the opening of the base of the skull (the foramen magnum) which then can block the flow of cerebrospinal fluid.

While children can have problems because of a Chiari malformation, many people have no symptoms until they are adults, when severe headaches and neck pain happen. They can also have fatigue, dizziness, vertigo, visual problems, problems with swallowing, ringing in the ears, problems with fine motor skills, and muscle weakness. And, some people never have any symptoms.

While the problems you mention are seen in people with a Chiari malformation, I am not a neurologist and I cannot say that is what you have or what the treatment would be. I highly recommend that you talk to a neurologist who is a specialist in this field to give you more specific information.

Thank you for visiting NetWellness. On this site, NetWellness experts try to answer general questions about health. Only a health professional performing a thorough clinical exam is able to evaluate your symptoms.

The US Department of Health and Human Services Bureau of Primary Health Care has a directory that will help you find a clinic that will give you medical, including dental care, even if you have no medical insurance or money.

Coverage For All.org also contains information about free medical care and programs in your area.

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Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University