Chiari Malformation Specialist

Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas

Neurosurgery & Minimally Invasive and Complex Spine Neurosurgeon located in Las Vegas, NV

Chiari malformation is a structural brain anomaly that can lead to severe complications like hydrocephalus and spina bifida. At the Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas, board-certified, multi-fellowship-trained neurosurgeon Scott Glickman, DO, FACOS, offers surgery to correct Chiari malformations. If you or your child has a Chiari malformation, call the office in Las Vegas, Nevada, today or request an appointment online.

Chiari Malformation Q & A

What is a Chiari malformation?

A Chiari malformation is when the part of your brain called the cerebellum extends into the upper part of your spinal canal. Chiari malformations often happen when part of the skull is misshapen or smaller than it should be, forcing the cerebellum downward.

There are three categories for Chiari malformations. Type 1 develops as your skull and brain are growing. A type 1 Chiari malformation might not cause symptoms until late childhood or adulthood. Types 2 and 3 are congenital conditions, meaning they’re present at birth.

What are the symptoms of a Chiari malformation?

Severe headaches, especially after coughing, sneezing, or straining, are the classic symptom of a Chiari malformation. Other symptoms vary widely but include:

  • Neck pain
  • Dizziness
  • Sleep problems
  • Hearing problems
  • Balance problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Difficulty speaking or swallowing
  • Ringing or buzzing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Problems with coordination and fine motor skills

Some people with Chiari malformations don’t experience any symptoms. If you or your child has symptoms of a Chiari malformation, call Dr. Glickman at the Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas.

What conditions are associated with Chiari malformations?

In some cases, a Chiari malformation becomes a progressive disorder, leading to severe complications like:

  • Hydrocephalus, a buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain
  • Spina bifida, an incomplete closing of the membranes around the spinal cord
  • Syringomyelia, in which a cyst or cavity forms in the spinal column
  • Spinal curvatures, like scoliosis or kyphosis

Children can also experience tethered cord syndrome, which occurs when the spinal cord attaches to tissues at the base of the spine.

How is a Chiari malformation diagnosed and treated?

First, Dr. Glickman does a comprehensive neurological exam. He’ll confirm a diagnosis with imaging tests like an X-ray, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or a computed tomography (CT) scan.

He then recommends the best course of treatment for your particular needs. Chiari malformations that don’t cause symptoms or interfere with your daily life might not need treatment. In these cases, Dr. Glickman often recommends routine monitoring with periodic MRIs.

Surgery is the only way to treat Chiari malformations that cause symptoms or put you at risk of developing complications. The most common Chiari malformation surgery is posterior fossa decompression. This surgery creates more space for the cerebellum, allowing it to rest in its normal position.

For expert care of a Chiari malformation, call the Center for Neurosurgery Las Vegas, or book an appointment online today.