Also part of the UPMC family:
Also part of the UPMC family:

​Chiari Malformation Surgery and Treatment

UPMC Content 3

There are different types of Chiari malformations. Doctors at the UPMC Chiari Center will consider each one separately when deciding on the best treatment for you. Surgical options are typically used in the most severe cases of symptomatic Chiari malformations.

The goals of Chiari malformation treatment include:

  • Reducing pressure on the nerve tissue
  • Creating normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid around and behind the cerebellum

Malformations that cause no symptoms should be left alone and do not require surgery.

Although medications may ease the pain associated with a Chiari malformation, surgery is the only treatment that will correct functional disturbances or stop the progression of damage.

Surgery to Reduce Pressure

The most common operation for Chiari malformation in adults — called posterior fossa decompression — involves removing a small section of bone in the back of the skull.

Neurosurgeons open the covering of the brain (the dura) and sew a patch in place to enlarge the covering. This provides more room for the brain and relieves the pressure.

Surgeons treat pediatric Chiari malformation similarly, although the decompression is usually followed at lower levels to decompress the spinal canal.

The Endoscopic Endonasal Approach

When Chiari malformation is associated with ventral compression of the brainstem by some other anomaly — such as basilar invagination — then surgeons may use the Endoscopic Endonasal Approach (EEA).

This innovative, minimally invasive technique uses the nose and nasal cavities as natural corridors to access the malformation.

EEA can offer the benefits of:

  • No incisions to heal
  • No disfigurement
  • Faster recovery time than with traditional, open surgery

Chiari Malformation
Watch an animation of Chiari malformation diagnosis and treatment while Dr. Robert Friedlander discusses the comprehensive care provided by UPMC.

Meet MaryMartha

MaryMartha – Chiari Malformation patient story 

An avid dancer and singer, MaryMartha faced a lifetime of symptoms caused by Chiari malformation. She found hope – and relief – at UPMC.

Read more »


Neurosurgery at UPMC: A powerful team approach
Dr. Robert M. Friedlander discusses the team approach to treating neurosurgical patients.

Find a Doctor

Browse UPMC doctors and medical professionals to find the care that's right for you. Customize your search by specialty, zip code, last name, and more.

Visit the UPMC Find a Doctor website.
Make an Appointment

Find important information on scheduling your appointment or finding a doctor or service that meets your needs.

Request an appointment now.
Find a Location

Browse addresses and contact information for our network of hospitals, specialty care practices, and community health locations.

Find a UPMC location near you.
Pay Your Bill

Learn more about how to pay your UPMC bill. Find resources including payment methods and contact information for assistance.

Pay your bill now.
Find a Career

Advance your career with UPMC. Discover our latest job listings and learn about our values and career pathways.

Find your ideal career at UPMC.