Management of Chiari I malformation in children: personal opinions

Joanna Gernsback, Tadanori Tomita*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Purpose: This manuscript describes our management philosophy of Chiari I malformation in children based on a single neurosurgeon’s personal experience. Methods: Based on 61 infants and children with Chiari I malformation treated from 2007 to 2017, typical symptoms, surgical indications, types of surgery, and evaluation of surgical decompression are reviewed. Results: Sixty-one patients had 69 decompressions, with 90% having symptom improvement. Seven (11.5%) needed reoperation, 1 of which needed 2 reoperations for recurrence. The recurrence rates were 20% (5 of 25) after dural scoring and 5.6% (2 of 36) after duraplasty (p = 0.1116, Fisher’s exact test). Six (16%) of 36 patients developed pseudomeningocele or CSF leak. Conclusions: We recommend surgical intervention for Chiari I malformation for clearly symptomatic patients and those with significant hydromyelia regardless of symptoms. A bony decompression with dural scoring is recommended for patients with typical occipital headaches with a lesser degree of tonsillar descent, while an expansile duraplasty is standard for those with high-grade tonsillar descent, medullary kink, or hydromyelia. Intraoperative ultrasound is often helpful to ensure the adequacy of the decompression. Most patients will have improvements in symptom and imaging after either type of decompressive surgery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1921-1923
Number of pages3
JournalChild's Nervous System
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Chiari I malformation
  • Children
  • Craniotomy
  • Posterior fossa decompression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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