Chiari Malformation Surgery

A chiari malformation surgery is performed to take out the bone found at the back of the skull and spine. The dura above the tonsils is opened up and patch is put in place to increase space.

Not every person with chiari malformation needs surgery, but when a person's personal circumstance allow it, a neurosurgeon may advice decompression surgery to correct the condition. The main aim of this surgery is to minimize and get rid off the pressure on the spinal cord which is usually as a result of the cerebellar tonsils. Almost all the patients that undergo decompression surgery receive partial or complete recovery in their symptoms, with minimal risk.

In chiari malformation surgery that takes place under general anesthesia, the neurosurgeon makes an incision at the back part of the head and takes out a small part of the skull. After this first procedure, the neurosurgeon will decide whether or not the correct amount of pressure that has been relived. If further surgery is needed, the surgery takes another step that involves opening up the dura, the tissues that keeps the brain and spinal cord safe. After the dura is opened up the neurosurgeon engages in a more thorough reduction of pressure in the spinal cord.

Whether to open the dura or not is determined by several factors, such as the patients symptoms, and post operation discoveries sometime involving use of Dopplar ultrasonography. The common type of dura opening surgery can take around three to four hours compared to the dura sparing slight invasive endoscopic type of surgery, which goes for around two hours. The time taken in the hospital after surgery can go for about one to five days, depending on the method of surgery. When one is at home for chiari malformation surgery recovery, one can take two weeks to three weeks, at which the patient should not engage in any strenuous activities. After recovery, one can go back to their normal activities. The neurosurgeon will give the patient specific recommendations about preforming tasks, certain activities such as sports. The great news about this is that one can go back to their normal life after recovery form the surgery.

Patients who have undergone chiari malformations surgery should make visits to their neurosurgeon a few months after the surgery for an MRI to check whether the pressure has been fully relieved. Subsequent imaging will be determined by the patient's symptoms and the outcomes of the former MRI. Most patients rarely require additional procedures, but the neurosurgeon should check the patients for any symptoms for complications or comeback of the symptoms. Patients, who are as young and below 3 years, have the highest chances of going through another surgery due to their ability to develop bone regrowth.

What are the risks associated with decompression surgery?

Well, there is no surgery that does not come with risks. The common side effects after any surgery include: bleeding, clotting of blood, infections, stroke, negative reactions to anesthesia, and death may also occur although in rare cases.