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J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2017 May;19(5):511-517. doi: 10.3171/2016.11.PEDS16263. Epub 2017 Feb 17.

Comparison of posterior fossa volumes and clinical outcomes after decompression of Chiari malformation Type I.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University of Michigan Health System, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Department of Neurosurgery, George Washington University.
Division of Neurosurgery, Children's National Health System, Washington, DC.
George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences; and.


OBJECTIVE Previous studies have indicated an association of Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) and a small posterior fossa. Most of these studies have been limited by 2D quantitative methods, and more recent studies utilizing 3D methodologies are time-intensive with manual segmentation. The authors sought to develop a more automated tool to calculate the 3D posterior fossa volume, and correlate its changes after decompression with surgical outcomes. METHODS A semiautomated segmentation program was developed, and used to compare the pre- and postoperative volumes of the posterior cranial fossa (PCF) and the CSF spaces (cisterna magna, prepontine cistern, and fourth ventricle) in a cohort of pediatric patients with CM-I. Volume changes were correlated with postoperative symptomatic improvements in headache, syrinx, tonsillar descent, cervicomedullary kinking, and overall surgical success. RESULTS Forty-two pediatric patients were included in this study. The mean percentage increase in PCF volume was significantly greater in patients who showed clinical improvement versus no improvement in headache (5.89% vs 1.54%, p < 0.05) and tonsillar descent (6.52% vs 2.57%, p < 0.05). Overall clinical success was associated with a larger postoperative PCF volume increase (p < 0.05). These clinical improvements were also significantly associated with a larger increase in the volume of the cisterna magna (p < 0.05). The increase in the caudal portion of the posterior fossa volume was also larger in patients who showed improvement in syrinx (6.63% vs 2.58%, p < 0.05) and cervicomedullary kinking (9.24% vs 3.79%, p < 0.05). CONCLUSIONS A greater increase in the postoperative PCF volume, and specifically an increase in the cisterna magna volume, was associated with a greater likelihood of clinical improvements in headache and tonsillar descent in patients with CM-I. Larger increases in the caudal portion of the posterior fossa volume were also associated with a greater likelihood of improvement in syrinx and cervicomedullary kinking.


CM-I = Chiari malformation Type I; Chiari malformation Type I; PCF = posterior cranial fossa; outcomes; posterior fossa volume; volumetric analysis

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