Chiari Malformations



Are you looking for a pediatric practice that provides the best care for neurology conditions such as Chiari malformations? Practitioners at THINK Neurology for Kids provide speedy, comprehensive care at their three convenient locations in The Woodlands, Katy, Sugar Land, and Austin, Texas. Children receive expert care with extremely low waiting times, and the compassionate team at THINK Neurology for Kids works with the whole family to treat a child’s illness or disorder. Call or book your appointment online with THINK Neurology for Kids.

Chiari Malformations Q & A

What is Chiari malformation?

Chiari malformation is a structural condition that puts pressure on the brain and spinal cord. Chiari malformation can stem from different causes. These include:

  • Fetal development abnormalities
  • Genetic mutations
  • Excessive spinal fluid drainage due to injury, trauma, or disease

Chiari malformation also may impact the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, a fluid that connects the spine and the brain. There are three types of Chiari malformations: type I, II, and III.

What is type I Chiari malformation?

Chiari malformation type 1 happens when structural abnormalities cause a part of the lower brain called the cerebellum to be pushed down into your spinal canal. This extra pressure causes symptoms such as:

  • Headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Speech problems
  • Dizziness
  • Numbness in extremities

People usually receive a Chiari malformation type I diagnosis in early adulthood, but improved access to healthcare has allowed earlier detection in children and pediatrics.  Surgery is the recommended treatment unless they’re asymptomatic.

What are the more severe types of Chiari malformations?

People with Chiari malformation type II have a structural issue in which their cerebellum and additional brain stem tissue push into the spinal canal. Sometimes, people with type II have incomplete nerve tissue or spina bifida. Those with type II might experience symptoms such as: 

  • Weakness in the arms
  • Breathing trouble
  • Issues with swallowing

Chiari malformation type III is the most severe manifestation of the disorder. In this case, the cerebellum, brain stem, and membrane push out through an unnatural opening behind the skull. 

Children are usually diagnosed either before or after birth and usually have neurological issues such as developmental disabilities or seizures.

How are Chiari malformations diagnosed?

For diagnosis, THINK Neurology for Kids evaluates your child by asking questions about symptoms and performing a physical exam. The physical exam could include testing functions, including:

  • Motor skills
  • Sensation
  • Touch
  • Memory
  • Reflexes

These tests identify damage to or abnormalities in the brain or spinal cord. Next, their doctor may recommend noninvasive imaging tests to take pictures of the brain tissue and spinal cord area. These may include:

  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Computed tomography (CT scan)
  • X-ray

THINK Neurology for Kids offers imaging services on the same campus as the practice. Practitioners at THINK Neurology for Kids are trained to work with kids to provide the most compassionate care possible.

If you’re looking for the best care for Chiari malformations in the Texas area with imaging services on campus, call THINK Neurology for Kids today to schedule your first appointment or book online.