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Neurosurgery. 1991 May;28(5):639-45.

Symptomatic Chiari malformation in adults: a new classification based on magnetic resonance imaging with clinical and prognostic significance.

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Department of Neurological Surgery, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Ohio.


Thirty-five consecutive adults with Chiari malformation and progressive symptoms underwent surgical treatment at a single institution over a 3-year period. All patients underwent magnetic resonance imaging scan before and after surgery. Images of the craniovertebral junction confirmed tonsillar herniation in all cases and allowed the definition of two anatomically distinct categories of the Chiari malformation in this age group. Twenty of the 35 patients had concomitant syringomyelia and were classified as Type A. The remaining 15 patients had evidence of frank herniation of the brain stem below the foramen magnum without evidence of syringomyelia and were labeled Type B. Type A patients had a predominant central cord symptomatology; Type B patients exhibited signs and symptoms of brain stem or cerebellar compression. The principal surgical procedure consisted of decompression of the foramen magnum, opening of the fourth ventricular outlet, and plugging of the obex. Significant improvement in preoperative symptoms and signs was observed in 9 of the 20 patients (45%) with syringomyelia (Type A), as compared to 13 of the 15 patients (87%) without syringomyelia (Type B). Postoperative reduction in syrinx volume was observed in 11 of the 20 patients with syringomyelia, including all 9 patients with excellent results. Magnetic resonance imaging has allowed a classification of the adult Chiari malformation in adults based on objective anatomic criteria, with clinical and prognostic relevance. The presence of syringomyelia implies a less favorable response to surgical intervention.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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