Arnold-Chiari Syndrome

In the brain, the cerebellum is the section that controls balance. Chiari malformations occur when parts of the cerebellum protrude into the spinal canal.

There are four specific types of Chiari malformations. Arnold-Chiari malformations (Type II Chiari malformations named after two pioneering researchers) happen when both cerebellar and brain stem tissue extends into the funnel-like opening to the spinal canal at the back of the skull (foramen magnum.) Also, the nerve tissue that connects the two halves of the cerebellum (the cerebellar vermis) may be only partially complete or absent.

Type II is usually accompanied by a form of spina bifida that occurs when the spinal canal and backbone do not close before birth (myelomeningocele). This causes the spinal cord and its protective membrane to protrude through a sac-like opening in the back. A myelomeningocele usually results in partial or complete paralysis of the area below the spinal opening.

The standard treatment for a Chiari Malformation is surgery. However, it is only recommended after a thorough diagnosis and analysis of our patient’s specific condition. You or your loved one will benefit from Northwell Health’s Chiari Institute surgeons’ many years of experience with these complex cases.

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Established in 2001, the Chiari Institute of Northwell Health Neuroscience Institute is the world's first comprehensive, multidisciplinary center for the management of patients suffering from Chiari malformation.


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