Chiari Malformation

What is Chiari Malformation?

Chiari malformations involve structural defects in the base of the skull that impacts the cerebellum. When part of the cerebellum called the cerebellar tonsils extends out of the skull into the upper spinal canal this is called a Chiari Malformation.


Diagnosis requires medical imaging. Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is the best way to diagnose Chiari. Computed Tomography (CT) scans can also pick up Chiari but can still some cases.


Chiari can be asymptomatic in some individuals. The most classic or "hallmark" symptom of Chiari malformation is the Chiari headache. There is a large list of symptoms someone with Chiari can also suffer from. 


Chiari may need either conservative or a surgical approach in treatment. Neither is a cure but many get good results.