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Medicine (Baltimore). 2019 May;98(19):e15533. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000015533.

Predictive value of posterior cranial fossa morphology in the decompression of Chiari malformation type I: A retrospective observational study.

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Department of Neurosurgery, the First Affiliated Hospital of Nanchang University, Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, China.


Posterior fossa decompression (PFD) is the standard procedure for the treatment of Chiari malformation type I (CMI). Although most patients have satisfactory surgical outcomes, some show no improvement or even a worsening of symptoms. Patient selection is thought to account for these different surgical outcomes. Our aim was to evaluate the predictive value of the preoperative posterior cranial fossa (PCF) morphology on the efficacy of PFD.Data from 39 CMI patients with CMI-related symptoms who underwent occipital foramen enlargement + C-1 laminectomy + enlarged duraplasty were retrospectively collected from January 2011 to May 2018. The patients were divided into improved and unimproved groups according to the modified Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale. Demographic information and clinical history, including preoperative comorbidities and clinical manifestations, were recorded for the 2 groups and compared. PCF morphology was assessed based on 13 linear, 8 angular, 4 areal parameters and 4 ratios related to these liner and areal parameters. The data were then analyzed statistically.Of the 39 patients with CMI, 24 showed improvement after PFD (61.5%), whereas the remaining 15 patients showed no improvement (38.5%). The preoperative symptoms lasted 1 to 240 months, with a median of 24 months. The follow-up period ranged from 2 to 82 months, with a median of 27 months. The improved and unimproved groups differed significantly with regard to upper limb numbness (OR = 10, P = .02) and upper limb weakness (OR = 4.86, P = .02). The 2 groups did not differ significantly with regard to any morphological parameters such as tonsillar descent, syrinx size.Preoperative upper limb numbness and upper limb weakness are unfavorable factors that influence the outcome of PFD in patients with CMI. However, the morphology of PCF cannot predict the response to PFD in patients with CMI.

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