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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:
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.
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.
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:
Watch an animation of Chiari malformation diagnosis and treatment while Dr. Robert Friedlander discusses the comprehensive care provided by UPMC.
An avid dancer and singer, MaryMartha faced a lifetime of symptoms caused by Chiari malformation. She found hope – and relief – at UPMC.
Neurosurgery at UPMC: A powerful team approach
Dr. Robert M. Friedlander discusses the team approach to treating neurosurgical patients.