Types of Chiari Malformation and Its Treatments


According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, a Chiari malformation is diagnosed in one out of every 1000 patients. Even while this condition is rarely life-threatening, it can make some patients’ head and neck pain intolerable.

Ages 25 to 45 are the most typical ranges for diagnosis of Chiari syndrome. To treat Chiari syndrome, surgeons prefer Chiari decompression surgery. This blog aims to give readers comprehensive information about the various types and treatments for Chiari syndrome.

What Is Chiari Malformation?

Chiari malformation is a brain disorder in which brain tissues extend and reach the spinal canal. It typically happens when some part of the skull is damaged or is smaller than usual. Hence, it presses the brain and forces it into the spinal canal, resulting in this syndrome.

This is an uncommon disease and is usually diagnosed when a patient undergoes some imaging tests for other purposes. Some people don’t show this disorder’s signs and symptoms and do not require treatment. But for others, treatment becomes necessary with unbearable neck and head pain.

Chiari Malformation Types

Medical professionals have divided Chiari malformation into three different categories. So, there are three types of this disease that you will mostly diagnose in patients.

Type 1

Type 2

Type 3

For details, read below.

Chiari Malformation Type 1

Chiari malformation type 1 usually occurs in late childhood or early adulthood. In this type of disorder, the lower part of the cerebellum is extended into the upper portion of the spinal canal. Thus, the brain puts pressure on the skull and moves towards the spinal canal. Here are a few symptoms that help diagnose this specific Chiari disorder type.


  • Severe neck pain
  • Unsynchronized hand coordination
  • Numbness and tickling in feet and hands
  • Balance issues
  • Speech problems
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting, choking, and difficulty in swallowing

The symptoms mentioned above are common in patients with Chiari type 1 disorder. Besides these common symptoms, some patients rarely feel weakness, slow heart rhythm, buzzing or ringing in the ears, and breathing problems.

Chiari Malformation Type 2

In Chiari malformation type 2, more brain tissues extend to the spinal canal than in type 1. In this disorder type, along with other brain tissue, cerebellum tissues also extend to the foramen magnum. Along with this disorder, the patient also experiences myelomeningocele, which results in complete and partial paralysis. Here are the common symptoms associated with Chiari malformation type 2.


  • Change of breathing patterns
  • Swallowing issues like gagging
  • Weakness in arms
  • Downwards eye movement rapidly

One thing to note is that it is usually diagnosed in an ultrasound during pregnancy. Besides this, doctors also diagnose it after birth and in early infancy.

Chiari Malformation Type 3

Chiari malformation type 3 is the most serious type of this Chiari syndrome. In type 3 disorder, the cerebellum and the brain stem emerge through an irregular opening in the back of the skull. The membranes that encircle the brain or spinal cord may also fall under this category. This syndrome type has a higher mortality rate, and patients with this type of disease also suffer from neurological disorders.


  • Hydrocephalus (fluid buildup in brain cavities)
  • Head and neck pain
  • Dizziness and weakness

It is indeed the rarest type of Chiari malformation, which has overall all the symptoms of other Chiari malformation types.

Treatment Options for Chiari Malformation

A treatment option for Chiari malformation depends on its type. For example, people with type 1 disorder usually remain asymptomatic and don’t require certain treatments. This is not a serious disorder, so it is left untreated. People with type 2 and 3 need treatment depending on their symptoms.

Chiari decompression surgery is one of the most accurate and picked treatments by surgeons. It includes the following steps.

  • The surgeon removes a little portion of bone from the base of your skull through a cut made at the back of your head while you are under general anesthesia.
  • Additionally, the surgeon might remove a tiny fragment of bone from the top of your spine.
  • The fluid in and around your brain and spinal cord will be able to flow generally as a result, which will assist in relieving pressure on your brain.

Apart from decompression surgery, Ventriculoperitoneal shunting, spinal fixation, and Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) are other treatment options. But surgeons usually prefer Chiari decompression surgery over other surgical options.

For people living in Sherman and Plano, Texas, you have the leading neurosurgeon here, Dr. Abdul Baker. He treats Chiari malformation with minimally invasive decompression surgery and ensures quick recovery for the patient. Visit him if you are facing this disorder and looking for an expert surgeon.

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