Congress of Neurological Surgeons Systematic Review and Evidence-Based Guidelines for PatientsWith Chiari Malformation: Surgical Interventions

Jogi V. Pattisapu*, Laurie L. Ackerman, Libby Kosnik Infinger, Cormac O. Maher, Carolyn Quinsey, Brandon G. Rocque, Howard Silberstein, Eric M. Jackson, Sarah Jernigan, Toba Niazi, Rabia Qaiser, Jeffrey S. Raskin, Shobhan Vachhrajani, David F. Bauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Chiari malformation type I (CIM) diagnoses have increased in recent years. Controversy regarding the best operative management prompted a review of the literature to offer guidance on surgical interventions. OBJECTIVE: To assess the literature to determine (1) whether posterior fossa decompression or posterior fossa decompression with duraplasty is more effective in preoperative symptom resolution; (2) whether there is benefit from cerebellar tonsillar resection/reduction; (3) the role of intraoperative neuromonitoring; (4) in patients with a syrinx, how long should a syrinx be observed for improvement before additional surgery is performed; and 5) what is the optimal duration of follow-up care after preoperative symptom resolution. METHODS: A systematic review was performed using the National Library of Medicine/PubMed and Embase databases for studies on CIM in children and adults. The most appropriate surgical interventions, the use of neuromonitoring, and clinical improvement during follow-up were reviewed for studies published between 1946 and January 23, 2021. RESULTS: A total of 80 studies met inclusion criteria. Posterior fossa decompression with or without duraplasty or cerebellar tonsil reduction all appeared to show some benefit for symptom relief and syrinx reduction. There was insufficient evidence to determine whether duraplasty or cerebellar tonsil reduction was needed for specific patient groups. There was no strong correlation between symptom relief and syringomyelia resolution. Many surgeons follow patients for 6-12 months before considering reoperation for persistent syringomyelia. No benefit or harm was seen with the use of neuromonitoring. CONCLUSION: This evidence-based clinical guidelines for the treatment of CIM provide 1 Class II and 4 Class III recommendations. In patients with CIM with or without syringomyelia, treatment options include bone decompression with or without duraplasty or cerebellar tonsil reduction. Improved syrinx resolution may potentially be seen with dural patch grafting. Symptom resolution and syrinx resolution did not correlate directly. Reoperation for a persistent syrinx was potentially beneficial if the syrinx had not improved 6 to 12 months after the initial operation. The full guidelines can be seen online at

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)731-735
Number of pages5
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2023


  • Chiari I malformation
  • Duraplasty
  • Guideline
  • Postoperative care
  • Syringomyelia
  • Tonsil reduction
  • Treatment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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