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Health & Wellness

Vital Signs: When The Brain's A Bit Out Of Place

A malformation of the head and brain occurring at birth can lead to a number of physical problems - or maybe even none at all.

Its symptoms suggest a number of ailments, but doctors have been diagnosing more cases of Chiari (pronounced kee-AH-ree) malformation — a condition where the brain intrudes on the spinal column. In this installment of KERA’s Vital Signs, Dr. Sabatino Bianco, a neurosurgeon with of Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital, talks about the two most common forms of Chiari.

Four Things To Know About Chiari Malformations:

  • The Mayo Clinic defines Chiari malformation as a condition in which brain tissue extends into your spinal canal. It occurs when part of your skull is abnormally small or misshapen, pressing on your brain and forcing it downward.
  • Chiari malformation is uncommon, but improved imaging tests, like MRIs have led to more frequent diagnoses. There is little information about patterns of who gets Chiari, although Dr. Bianco says the symptoms tend to show up a bit more in women.
  • Chiari malformation type I develops as the skull and brain are growing. As a result, signs and symptoms may not occur until late childhood or adulthood. The most common pediatric form, called Chiari malformation type II, is present at birth (congenital).
  • Treatment of Chiari malformation depends on the form, severity and associated symptoms. Regular monitoring, medications and surgery are treatment options. In some cases, no treatment is needed.

For More Information: What are Chiari malformations?Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Frequently Asked Questions about Chiari malformation