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Neurol Sci. 2015 Sep;36(9):1617-24. doi: 10.1007/s10072-015-2219-9. Epub 2015 May 14.

Patient-reported Chiari malformation type I symptoms and diagnostic experiences: a report from the national Conquer Chiari Patient Registry database.

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  • 1Department of Health Policy and Management, College of Public Health, Kent State University, 210 Moulton Hall, Kent, OH, 44242, USA,


Chiari malformation (CM) is a condition in which cerebellar tonsillar ectopia may manifest with various clinical presentations. This study reports from the only national, online patient registry available, the symptoms, comorbid neurocognitive and psychological conditions, and diagnostic experiences of patients living with CM type I (CM I). The current research is one component of a large investigation designed to collect information from individuals with CM through the online Conquer Chiari Patient Registry questionnaire. Analyses included descriptive statistics to study body system impact and patient diagnostic experiences. Participants were 768 individuals with CM I and were predominantly female (86.8 %) and Caucasian (93.8 %) with an average age of 35 years. Pain was the most frequently reported symptom (76.69 %) experienced prior to diagnosis with headaches implicated most often (73.44 %). Neurocognitive comorbidities included memory difficulties (43.88 %) and aphasia (43.75 %) and psychological disorders such as depression (31.77 %) and anxiety disorders (19.92 %) were reported. Average time to diagnosis from first physician visit to diagnosis was 3.43 years, and only 8.46 % of patients had previous awareness of CM. CM I diagnosis was found incidentally for 24.87 % of participants. Common misdiagnoses were classified as psychological (19.26 %) and neurological (19.26 %). Fear was the most frequent emotion elicited at the time of correct diagnosis (42.19 %). CM I can be a challenging condition for patients and physicians, during both the search for diagnosis and management of symptoms. Patient and physician education about CM I may permit early intervention and the prevention of further deterioration and patient suffering.

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