Chiari malformation (kee-AH-ree mal-for-MAY-shun) is a condition in which brain tissue extends into your spinal canal. It occurs when part of your skull is abnormally small or misshapen, pressing on your brain and forcing it downward.

Chiari malformation is uncommon, but improved imaging tests have led to more frequent diagnoses.

Chiari malformation type I develops as the skull and brain are growing. As a result, signs and symptoms may not occur until late childhood or adulthood. The most common pediatric form, called Chiari malformation type II, is present at birth (congenital).

Treatment of Chiari malformation depends on the form, severity and associated symptoms. Regular monitoring, medications and surgery are treatment options. In some cases, no treatment is needed.

Aug. 21, 2013

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