Chiari Decompression

When successful, surgery can reduce pressure on the cerebellum and the spinal cord, and restore the normal flow of spinal fluid.

About this Surgery

Used to treat: Chiari Malformation

Surgery is the approach doctors use most often to treat symptomatic Chiari malformations. The goal is to stop the progression of changes in the anatomy of the brain and spinal canal, as well as ease or stabilize symptoms. When successful, surgery can reduce pressure on the cerebellum and the spinal cord, and restore the normal flow of spinal fluid.

In the most common operation for Chiari malformation—called posterior fossa craniectomy or posterior fossa decompression—your surgeon removes a small section of bone in the back of the skull, relieving pressure by giving the brain more room. The covering of the brain, called the dura, is then opened, and a patch is sewn in place to enlarge the covering and provide more room for the brain; this patch may be an artificial material, or it could be tissue harvested from your own inner scalp. The exact technique may vary, depending on whether a fluid-filled cavity is present, or if you have hydrocephalus.

The operation is successful in most people, but if nerve injury in the spinal canal has already occurred prior to surgery, this procedure may not reverse the damage.

Please keep in mind that all treatments and outcomes are specific to the individual patient. Results may vary. Complications, such as infection, blood loss, and bowel or bladder problems are some of the potential adverse risks of surgery. Please consult your physician for a complete list of indications, warnings, precautions, adverse events, clinical results and other important medical information.