Our previous study suggested that atlanto-occipital instability (AOI) is common in patients with type II basilar invagination (II-BI).
OBJECTIVE: To further understand the pathogenesis of AOI in Chiari malformations (CM) and CM + II-BI through systematic measurements of the bone structure surrounding the craniocervical junction.
METHODS: Computed tomography data from 185 adults (80 controls, 63 CM, and 42 CM + II-BI) were collected, and geometric models were established for parameter measurement. Canonical correlation analysis was used to evaluate the morphological and positional relationships of the atlanto-occipital joint (AOJ).
RESULTS: Among the 3 groups, the length and height of the condyle and superior portion of the lateral masses of the atlas (C1-LM) were smallest in CM + II-BI cases; the AOJ had the shallowest depth and the lowest curvature in the same group. AOJs were divided into 3 morphological types: type I, the typical ball-and-socket joint, mainly in the control group (100%); type II, the shallower joint, mainly in the CM group (92.9%); and type III, the abnormal flat-tilt joint, mainly in the CM + II-BI group (89.3%). Kinematic computed tomography revealed AOI in all III-AOJs (100%) and some II-AOJs (1.5%) but not in type I-AOJs (0%). Morphological parameters of the superior portion of C1-LM positively correlated with those of C0 and the clivus and significantly correlated with AOI.
CONCLUSION: Dysplasia of the condyle and superior portion of C1-LM exists in both CM and II-BI cases yet is more obvious in type II-BI. Unstable movement caused by AOJ deformation is another pathogenic factor in patients with CM + II-BI.
The pathophysiological connection between Chiari malformation and syringomyelia is accepted. Debate remains, however, how can we best define changes in syringomyelia following surgery.
OBJECTIVE: To introduce a grading system focusing on syrinx reduction based on routinely and reproducible radiological information, and provide a suggestion of the application of this scale for prediction of patient’s prognoses.
METHODS: Data from 48 patients with Chiari malformation and syringomyelia were compiled. We calculated syrinx cross-sectional area by approximating an ellipse in the largest axial plane. We compared the percentage of reduction or enlargement following surgery. The percentage change was grouped into four grades: Grade 0 = Increasing size, grade I ≤ 50% reduction, grade II = 50% to 90% reduction, grade III ≥ 90% reduction.
RESULTS: A total of 89.6% of patients had syrinx improvement after surgery. A total of 5 patients were grade 0, 14 were grade I, 20 patients were grade II, and 9 patients met criteria for grade III. The mean postoperative syrinx area was 24.1 mm2 (0-169 mm2) with a mean syrinx reduction of 62.7%.
CONCLUSION: Radiological improvement of syringomyelia can be mathematically defined and standardized to assist in communication in outcome-based trials. Radiological resolution is expected most patients.
Chiari 1 malformation is diagnosed if the cerebellar tonsils extend at least 5 mm below the opisthion-basion line.
Objective To examine the correlation of the extent of tonsillar ectopia with the prevalence and severity of the symptoms associated with the Chiari malformation.
Methods Patients (N = 428) were grouped according to the extent of tonsillar ectopia on the mid-sagittal MRI image (group 1, 0–< 3 mm; group 2, 3–5 mm; group 3, > 5 mm). Groups were compared regarding demographics, symptoms, neurological signs, pain score, and response to HADS and sf-36 questionnaires.
Results were analyzed using one-way ANOVA, chi-square, and two sample Z test, and Student’s t test for pairwise comparison, (statistical significance p < 0.05). A logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the relationship between tonsillar ectopia and the probability of a patient reporting any particular symptom. Results There were 97,148 and 183 patients in groups 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Groups did not differ with regard to antecedent trauma or female preponderance. Patients in group 1 were more symptomatic than those in groups 2 and 3 with regard to some symptoms, (p = 0.04–p = 0.000). Regression analysis confirmed an inverse relationship between the extent of tonsillar ectopia and the likelihood of many symptoms. The pain score was greatest in group 1, (p = 0.006). Prevalence of objective signs of myelopathy did not differ between groups except for Hoffmann sign which was more prevalent in group 1, (p = 0.034). HADS and sf-36 scores did not differ between groups.
Conclusion The severity of the symptoms associated with the Chiari malformation does not correlate directly with the extent of tonsillar ectopia. The extent of tonsillar ectopia should be re-evaluated as the threshold for diagnosis of Chiari 1 malformation.
Chiari 1 malformation is diagnosed if the cerebellar tonsils extend at least 5 mm below the opisthion-basion line. Objective To examine the correlation of the extent of tonsillar ectopia with the prevalence and severity of the symptoms associated with the Chiari malformation.
Methods Patients (N = 428) were grouped according to the extent of tonsillar ectopia on the mid-sagittal MRI image (group 1, 0–< 3 mm; group 2, 3–5 mm; group 3, > 5 mm). Groups were compared regarding demographics, symptoms, neurological signs, pain score, and response to HADS and sf-36 questionnaires. Results were analyzed using one-way ANOVA, chi-square, and two sample Z test, and Student’s t test for pairwise comparison, (statistical significance p < 0.05). A logistic regression analysis was performed to determine the relationship between tonsillar ectopia and the probability of a patient reporting any particular symptom.
Results There were 97,148 and 183 patients in groups 1, 2, and 3 respectively. Groups did not differ with regard to antecedent trauma or female preponderance. Patients in group 1 were more symptomatic than those in groups 2 and 3 with regard to some symptoms, (p = 0.04–p = 0.000). Regression analysis confirmed an inverse relationship between the extent of tonsillar ectopia and the likelihood of many symptoms. The pain score was greatest in group 1, (p = 0.006). Prevalence of objective signs of myelopathy did not differ between groups except for Hoffmann sign which was more prevalent in group 1, (p = 0.034). HADS and sf-36 scores did not differ between groups.
Conclusion The severity of the symptoms associated with the Chiari malformation does not correlate directly with the extent of tonsillar ectopia. The extent of tonsillar ectopia should be re-evaluated as the threshold for diagnosis of Chiari 1 malformation.
As the understanding of pathophysiology behind Chiari malformation still is limited, the treatment of Chiari malformation type 1 remains rather empirical. This may result in suboptimal treatment strategy and outcome in many cases. In this review, we critically address whether the condition known today as Chiari malformation type I should rather be denoted Chiari syndrome.
Methods The current knowledge of Chiari malformation type 1 is summarized from the historical, etymological, genetic, clinical, and in particular pathophysiological perspectives.
Results There are several lines of evidence that Chiari malformation type 1 represents a condition significantly different from types 2 to 4. Unlike the other types, the type 1 should rather be considered a syndrome, thus supporting the reasons to reappraise the traditional classification of Chiari malformations.
Conclusion We propose that Chiari malformation type 1 should rather be denoted Chiari syndrome, while the notation malformation is maintained for types 2–4.
The standard treatment for symptomatic Chiari malformation (CM) I is foramen magnum decompression (FMD) to facilitate cerebral spinal fluid flow through the foramen magnum, improve intracranial compliance, and alleviate symptoms (commonly headache). This procedure has a variable success rate, with a significant proportion of patients having persistent symptoms after surgery.
OBJECTIVE: To investigate intracranial pressure (ICP) hydrodynamics in symptomatic surgery-naïve patients with CM I and symptomatic patients who have had prior FMD.
METHODS: We undertook a retrospective, observational cohort study, extracting data from our departmental ICP database. Patients with untreated (“Virgin”) Chiari malformations (VCM), patients with previous “failed” FMD (ie, with persistent classical Chiari symptoms) (fFMD) and a normal control group, all with existing continuous ICP monitoring date were included. Median ICP (mICP) and median pulse amplitude (mPA) were compared between the groups.
RESULTS: A total of 33 CM patients (22 VCM and 11 fFMD) and 42 normal controls were included for analysis. mICP did not differ significantly between the normal control, VCM, and fFMD groups. mPA in the VCM and fFMD groups was significantly higher than the control group (P< .01 and P< .05, respectively).
CONCLUSION: In this cohort, patients with persistent symptoms after FMD have persistently impaired intracranial compliance, similar to patients who have not undergone surgery at all when compared with a control group. The reasons for this are not clear, and further research is required to establish the causation and optimum management for failed FMD.
Chiari malformation was first described over a century ago, and consists of posterior fossa anomalies that generally share the feature of cerebellar tonsillar descent through the foramen magnum. Our understanding of this disorder was initially based on autopsy studies, and has been greatly enhanced by the advent of MRI.
The surgical management of Chiari anomalies has also evolved in a parallel fashion. Although the exact surgical technique varies among individual surgeons, the goals of surgery remain constant and consist of relieving brainstem compression and cranial nerve distortion, restoring the normal flow of CSF across the foramen magnum, and reducing the size of any associated syrinx cavity. Syrinx cavities are most commonly associated with Chiari anomalies, yet primary spinal syringomyelia (PSS) can be caused by traumatic, infectious, degenerative, and other etiologies that cause at least a partial CSF flow obstruction in the spinal subarachnoid space. As with syringomyelia associated with Chiari anomalies, the main goal of PSS surgery is to reestablish CSF flow across the area of obstruction. In addition to MRI, myelography with CT can be very helpful in the evaluation and management of these patients by identifying focal regions of CSF obstruction that may be amenable to surgical intervention.
Future directions for the treatment of Chiari anomalies and syringomyelia include the application of advanced imaging techniques, more widespread use of genetic evaluation, large-scale outcome studies, and the further refinement of surgical technique.
The authors present 4 cases in which they used intraoperative CT (iCT) scanning to provide real-time image guidance during endonasal odontoid resection. While intraoperative CT has previously been used as a confirmatory test after resection, to the authors’ knowledge this is the first time it has been used to provide real-time image guidance during endonasal odontoid resection. The operating room setup, as well as the advantages and pitfalls of this approach, are discussed.
A mobile intraoperative CT scanner was used in conjunction with real-time craniospinal neuronavigation in 4 patients who underwent endoscopic endonasal odontoidectomy for basilar invagination. All patients underwent a successful decompression.
In 3 of the 4 patients, real-time intraoperative CT image guidance was instrumental in achieving a comprehensive decompression. In 3 (75%) cases in which the right nostril was the predominant working channel, there was a tendency for asymmetrical decompression toward the right side, meaning that residual bone was seen on the left, which was subsequently removed prior to completion of the surgery.
Endoscopic endonasal odontoid resection with real-time intraoperative image-guided CT scanning is feasible and provides accurate intraoperative localization of pathology, thereby increasing the chance of a complete odontoidectomy. For right-handed surgeons operating predominantly through the right nostril, special attention should be paid to the contralateral side of the resection, where there is often a tendency for residual pathology.
Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) is a rare disease characterised by herniation of cerebellar tonsils below the foramen magnum with associated anomalies of posterior fossa. We describe here the surgical technique, indications and limits of surgical treatment.
Method The authors describe the surgical technique, including: posterior fossa decompression, opening of the foramen of Magendie and duraplasty in case of CM-I.
Conclusions Posterior fossa decompression plus duraplasty is a safe and effective procedure for patients with CM-I malformation.
This study identifies quantitative imaging-based measures in patients with Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) that are associated with positive outcomes after suboccipital decompression with duraplasty.
Methods Fifteen patients in whom CM-I was newly diagnosed underwent MRI preoperatively and 3 months postoperatively. More than 20 previously described morphological and physiological parameters were derived to assess quantitatively the impact of surgery. Postsurgical clinical outcomes were assessed in 2 ways, based on resolution of the patient’s chief complaint and using a modified Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS). Statistical analyses were performed to identify measures that were different between the unfavorable- and favorable-outcome cohorts. Multivariate analysis was used to identify the strongest predictors of outcome.
Results The strongest physiological parameter predictive of outcome was the preoperative maximal cord displacement in the upper cervical region during the cardiac cycle, which was significantly larger in the favorable-outcome subcohorts for both outcome types (p < 0.05). Several hydrodynamic measures revealed significantly larger preoperative-topostoperative changes in the favorable-outcome subcohort. Predictor sets for the chief-complaint classification included the cord displacement, percent venous drainage through the jugular veins, and normalized cerebral blood flow with 93.3% accuracy. Maximal cord displacement combined with intracranial volume change predicted outcome based on the modified CCOS classification with similar accuracy.
Conclusions Tested physiological measures were stronger predictors of outcome than the morphological measures in patients with CM-I. Maximal cord displacement and intracranial volume change during the cardiac cycle together with a measure that reflects the cerebral venous drainage pathway emerged as likely predictors of decompression outcome in patients with CM-I.
The pathogenesis of syringomyelia associated with Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) is unclear. Theories of pathogenesis suggest the cerebellar tonsils may obstruct CSF flow or alter pressure gradients, or their motion might act as a piston to increase CSF pressure in the spinal subarachnoid space. This study was performed to measure cerebellar tonsillar and hindbrain motion in CM-I and assess the potential contributions to syrinx formation.
Methods Sixty-four CM-I patients and 25 controls were retrospectively selected from a clinical database, and all subjects had undergone cardiac-gated cine balanced fast-field echo MRI. There were a total of 36 preoperative CM-I scans, which consisted of 15 patients with and 21 patients without syringomyelia. Nineteen patients underwent paired pre- and postoperative imaging. Anteroposterior (AP) and superoinferior (SI) movements of the tip of the cerebellar tonsils, obex, fastigium of the fourth ventricle, pontomedullary junction, and cervicomedullary junction were measured. The distance between the fastigium and tip of the tonsils was used to calculate tonsillar tissue strain.
Results CM-I patients had significantly greater cerebellar tonsillar motion in both the AP and SI directions than controls (AP +0.34 mm [+136%], p < 0.001; SI +0.49 mm [+163%], p < 0.001). This motion decreased after posterior fossa decompression (AP -0.20 mm [-33%], p = 0.001; SI -0.29 mm [-36%]; p < 0.001), but remained elevated above control levels (AP +56%, p = 0.021; SI +67%, p = 0.015). Similar trends were seen for all other tracked landmarks. There were no significant differences in the magnitude or timing of motion throughout the hindbrain between CM-I patients with and without syringomyelia. Increased tonsillar tissue strain correlated with Valsalva headaches (p = 0.03).
Conclusions Cerebellar tonsillar motion may be a potential marker of CM-I and may have use in tailoring surgical procedures. The lack of association with syringomyelia suggests that tonsillar motion alone is not the driver of syrinx formation. Tonsillar tissue strain may play a part in the pathophysiology of Valsalva headaches.
The authors completed a prospective, institutional review board–approved study using intraoperative MRI (iMRI) in patients undergoing posterior fossa decompression (PFD) for Chiari I malformation. The purpose of the study was to examine the utility of iMRI in determining when an adequate decompression had been performed.
Methods Patients with symptomatic Chiari I malformations with imaging findings of obstruction of the CSF space at the foramen magnum, with or without syringomyelia, were considered candidates for surgery. All patients underwent complete T1, T2, and cine MRI studies in the supine position preoperatively as a baseline. After the patient was placed prone with the neck flexed in position for surgery, iMRI was performed. The patient then underwent a bone decompression of the foramen magnum and arch of C-1, and the MRI was repeated. If obstruction was still present, then in a stepwise fashion the patient underwent dural splitting, duraplasty, and coagulation of the tonsils, with an iMRI study performed after each step guiding the decision to proceed further.
Results Eighteen patients underwent PFD for Chiari I malformations between November 2011 and February 2013; 15 prone preincision iMRIs were performed. Fourteen of these patients (93%) demonstrated significant improvement of CSF flow through the foramen magnum dorsal to the tonsils with positioning only. This improvement was so notable that changes in CSF flow as a result of the bone decompression were difficult to discern.
Conclusions The authors observed significant CSF flow changes when simply positioning the patient for surgery. These results put into question intraoperative flow assessments that suggest adequate decompression by PFD, whether by iMRI or intraoperative ultrasound. The use of intraoperative imaging during PFD for Chiari I malformation, whether by ultrasound or iMRI, is limited by CSF flow dynamics across the foramen magnum that change significantly when the patient is positioned for surgery.
Understanding that atlantoaxial instability is the cause of Chiari malformation (CM), the author treated 65 patients using atlantoaxial stabilization. The results are analyzed.
Methods Cases of CM treated using atlantoaxial fixation during the period from January 2010 to November 2013 were reviewed and analyzed. Surgery was aimed at segmental arthrodesis.
Results The author treated 65 patients with CM in the defined study period. Fifty-five patients had associated syringomyelia. Forty-six patients had associated basilar invagination. Thirty-seven patients had both basilar invagination and syringomyelia. Three patients had been treated earlier using foramen magnum decompression and duraplasty. According to the extent of their functional capabilities, patients were divided into 5 clinical grades. On the basis of the type of facetal alignment and atlantoaxial instability, the patients were divided into 3 groups. Type I dislocation (17 patients) was anterior atlantoaxial instability wherein the facet of the atlas was dislocated anterior to the facet of the axis. Type II dislocation (31 patients) was posterior atlantoaxial instability wherein the facet of the atlas was dislocated posterior to the facet of the axis. Type III dislocation (17 patients) was the absence of demonstrable facetal malalignment and was labeled as “central” atlantoaxial dislocation. In 18 patients, dynamic images showed vertical, mobile and at-least partially reducible atlantoaxial dislocation. All patients were treated with atlantoaxial plate and screw fixation using techniques described in 1994 and 2004. Foramen magnum decompression or syrinx manipulation was not performed in any patient. Occipital bone and subaxial spinal elements were not included in the fixation construct. One patient died, and death occurred in the immediate postoperative phase and was related to a vertebral artery injury incurred during the operation. One patient had persistent symptoms. In the rest of the patients there was gratifying clinical improvement. More remarkably, in 7 patients, the symptoms of lower cranial nerve paresis improved. No patient worsened in their neurological function after surgery. Reductions in the size of the syrinx and regression of the CM were observed in 6 of 11 cases in which postoperative MRI was possible. During the follow-up period, there was no delayed worsening of neurological function or symptoms in any patient. Sixty-three patients improved after surgery, and the improvement was sustained during the average follow-up period of 18 months.
Conclusions On the basis of outcomes in this study, it appears that the pathogenesis of CM with or without associated basilar invagination and/or syringomyelia is primarily related to atlantoaxial instability. The data suggest that the surgical treatment in these cases should be directed toward atlantoaxial stabilization and segmental arthrodesis. Except in cases in which there is assimilation of the atlas, inclusion of the occipital bone is neither indicated nor provides optimum stability. Foramen magnum decompression is not necessary and may be counter-effective in the long run.
It has been well documented that, along with tonsillar herniation, Chiari Malformation Type I (CMI) is associated with smaller posterior cranial fossa (PCF) and altered cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow and tissue motion in the craniocervical junction.
OBJECTIVE: This study assesses the relationship between PCF volumetry and CSF and tissue dynamics toward a combined imaging-based morphological-physiological characterization of CMI. Multivariate analysis is used to identify the subset of parameters that best discriminates CMI from a healthy cohort.
METHODS: Eleven length and volumetric measures of PCF, including crowdedness and 4th ventricle volume, 4 measures of CSF and cord motion in the craniocervical junction, and 5 global intracranial measures, including intracranial compliance and pressure, were measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in 36 symptomatic CMI subjects (28 female, 37 6 11 years) and 37 control subjects (24 female, 36 6 12 years). The CMI group was further divided based on symptomatology into “typical” and “atypical” subgroups.
RESULTS: Ten of the 20 morphologic and physiologic measures were significantly different between the CMI and the control cohorts. These parameters also had less variability and stronger significance in the typical CMI compared with the atypical. The measures with the most significance were clival and supraocciput lengths, PCF crowdedness, normalized PCF volume, 4th ventricle volume, maximal cord displacement (P , .001), and MR measure of intracranial pressure (P = .007). Multivariate testing identified cord displacement, PCF crowdedness, and normalized PCF as the strongest discriminator subset between CMI and controls. MR measure of intracranial pressure was higher in the typical CMI cohort compared with the atypical.
CONCLUSION: The identified 10 complementing morphological and physiological measures provide a more complete and symptomatology-relevant characterization of CMI than tonsillar herniation alone.
The goal of this study was to radiologically describe the anatomical characteristics of the cisterna magna (CM) with regard to presence, dimension, and configuration.
Methods In this retrospective study, 523 records were reviewed. We defined five CM types, the range of which covered all normal variants found in the study population. Characteristics of the CM were recorded and correlations between various posterior fossa dimensions and CM volume determined.
Results There were 268 female (mean age 50.9±16.9 years) and 255 male (mean age 54.1±15.8 years) patients. CMvolume was smaller in females than in males and correlated with age (Pearson correlation, r =0.1494, p =0.0006) and gender (unpaired t test, r2=0.0608, p <0.0001). Clivus length correlated with CM volume (Pearson correlation, r =0.211, p <0.0001) and gender (unpaired t test, r2=0.2428, p <0.0001). Tentorial angle did not correlate with CM volume (Pearson correlation, r =−0.0609, p <0.1642) but did correlate with gender (unpaired t test, r2=0.0163, p <0.0035). The anterior–posterior dimension of cerebrospinal fluid anterior to the brainstem correlated with CM volume (Pearson correlation, r =0.181, p <0.0001) and gender (unpaired t test, r2=0.0205, p =0.001).
Conclusion The anatomical description and simple classification system we define allows for a more precise description of posterior fossa anatomy and could potentially contribute to the understanding of Chiari malformation anatomy and management.
Prior attempts to define normal cerebellar tonsil position have been limited by small numbers of patients precluding analysis of normal distribution by age group. The authors’ objective in the present study was to analyze cerebellar tonsil location in every age range.
Methods. Two thousand four hundred patients were randomly selected from a database of 62,533 consecutive patients undergoing MRI and were organized into 8 age groups. Magnetic resonance images were directly examined for tonsil location, morphology, and other features. Patients with a history or imaging findings of posterior fossa abnormalities unrelated to Chiari malformation (CM) were excluded from analysis. The caudal extent of the cerebellar tonsils was measured at the midsagittal and lowest parasagittal positions.
Results. The mean tonsil height decreased slightly with advancing age into young adulthood and increased with advancing age in the adult age range. An increasing age in the adult age range was associated with a decreased likelihood of a tonsil position 5 mm or more below the foramen magnum (p = 0.0004). In general, the lowest tonsil position in each age group was normally distributed. Patients with pegged morphology were more likely to have a tonsil location at least 5 mm below the foramen magnum (85%), as compared with those having intermediate (38%) or rounded (2%) morphology (p < 0.0001). Female sex was associated with a lower mean tonsil position (p < 0.0001). Patients with a lower tonsil position also tended to have an asymmetrical tonsil position, usually lower on the right (p < 0.0001).
Conclusions. Cerebellar tonsil position follows an essentially normal distribution and varies significantly by age. This finding has implications for advancing our understanding of CM.
Dural splitting decompression may be an effective and safe treatment for Chiari I malformation.
OBJECTIVE: To compare clinical outcomes, complications, and resource utilization for patients undergoing Chiari I decompression with or without duraplasty.
METHODS: Between 2000 and 2009, the senior author performed 113 Chiari I decompression operations with dural splitting or duraplasty in children less than 18 years of age; 110 were included in a retrospective cohort analysis of safety, efficacy, and treatment cost. Patients without significant syringomyelia underwent dural splitting decompression, and patients with syringomyelia underwent duraplasty.
RESULTS: Sixty-three patients without significant syringomyelia (57%) underwent dural splitting decompression. They were significantly younger than patients undergoing duraplasty (8.3 ± 4.9 years vs 10.4 ± 4.4 years; P < .05). Headaches improved or resolved in most patients in both groups (90.5% vs 93.6%; P = .59). Dysphagia, long tract signs, cranial nerve, and bulbar symptoms also improved similarly in both groups. Three duraplasty patients were treated medically for aseptic meningitis; one underwent reoperation for a symptomatic pseudomeningocele. No patient undergoing dural splitting decompression experienced a cerebrospinal fluid-related complication. Extradural decompression required less operative time than duraplasty (105.5 vs 168.9 minutes, P < .001), a shorter length of stay (2.4 vs 2.8 days, P = .011), and lower total cost for the primary hospitalization ($26 837 vs $29 862, P = .015).
CONCLUSION: In this retrospective cohort study, dural splitting decompression was equally effective, safer, and lower cost for treatment of Chiari I malformation without syringomyelia. A multicenter trial with groups balanced for the presence of syringomyelia is necessary to determine whether these results are generalizable.
Resolution of syringomyelia is common following hindbrain decompression for Chiari malformation, yet little is known about the kinetics governing this process. The authors sought to establish the volumetric rate of syringomyelia resolution.
Methods. A retrospective cohort of patients undergoing hindbrain decompression for a Chiari malformation Type I with preoperative cervical or thoracic syringomyelia was identified. Patients were included in the study if they had at least 3 neuroimaging studies that detailed the entirety of their preoperative syringomyelia over a minimum of 6 months postoperatively. The authors reconstructed the MR images in 3 dimensions and calculated the volume of the syringomyelia. They plotted the syringomyelia volume over time and constructed regression models using the method of least squares. The Akaike information criterion and Bayesian information criterion were used to calculate the relative goodness of fit. The coefficients of determination R2 (unadjusted and adjusted) were calculated to describe the proportion of variability in each individual data set accounted for by the statistical model.
Results. Two patients were identified as meeting inclusion criteria. Plots of the least-squares best fit were identified as 4.01459e-0.0180804x and 13.2556e-0.00615859x. Decay of the syringomyelia followed an exponential model in both patients (R2 = 0.989582 and 0.948864).
Conclusions. Three-dimensional analysis of syringomyelia resolution over time enables the kinetics to be estimated. This technique is yet to be validated in a large cohort. Because syringomyelia is the final common pathway for a number of different pathological processes, it is possible that this exponential only applies to syringomyelia related to treatment of Chiari malformation Type I.
The natural history of the Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is incompletely understood. The authors report on the outcome of a large group of patients with CM-I that were initially selected for nonsurgical management.
Methods. The authors identified 147 patients in whom CM-I was diagnosed on MR imaging, who were not offered surgery at the time of diagnosis, and in whom at least 1 year of clinical and MR imaging follow-up was available after the initial CM-I diagnosis. These patients were included in an outcome analysis.
Results. Patients were followed clinically and by MR imaging for a mean duration of 4.6 and 3.8 years, respectively. Of the 147 patients, 9 had new symptoms attributed to the CM-I during the follow-up interval. During this time, development of a spinal cord syrinx occurred in 8 patients; 5 of these patients had a prior diagnosis of a presyrinx state or a dilated central canal. Spontaneous resolution of a syrinx occurred in 3 patients. Multiple CSF flow studies were obtained in 74 patients. Of these patients, 23 had improvement in CSF flow, 39 had no change, and 12 showed worsening CSF flow at the foramen magnum. There was no significant change in the mean amount of cerebellar tonsillar herniation over the follow-up period. Fourteen patients underwent surgical treatment for CM-I. There were no differences in initial cerebellar tonsillar herniation or CSF flow at the foramen magnum in those who ultimately underwent surgery compared with those who did not.
Conclusions. In patients with CM-Is that are selected for nonsurgical management, the natural history is usually benign, although spontaneous improvement and worsening are occasionally seen.
The pathogenesis of Chiari malformations is incompletely understood. We tested the hypothesis that different etiologies have different mechanisms of cerebellar tonsil herniation (CTH), as revealed by posterior cranial fossa (PCF) morphology.
Methods In 741 patients with Chiari malformation type I (CM-I) and 11 patients with Chiari malformation type II (CM-II), the size of the occipital enchondrium and volume of the PCF (PCFV) were measured on reconstructed 2D-CT and MR images of the skull. Measurements were compared with those in 80 age- and sex-matched healthy control individuals, and the results were correlated with clinical findings.
Results Significant reductions of PCF size and volume were present in 388 patients with classical CM-I, 11 patients with CM-II, and five patients with CM-I and craniosynostosis. Occipital bone size and PCFV were normal in 225 patients with CM-I and occipitoatlantoaxial joint instability, 55 patients with CM-I and tethered cord syndrome (TCS), 30 patients with CM-I and intracranial mass lesions, and 28 patients with CM-I and lumboperitoneal shunts. Ten patients had miscellaneous etiologies. The size and area of the foramen magnum were significantly smaller in patients with classical CM-I and CM-I occurring with craniosynostosis and significantly larger in patients with CM-II and CM-I occurring with TCS.
Conclusions Important clues concerning the pathogenesis of CTH were provided by morphometric measurements of the PCF. When these assessments were correlated with etiological factors, the following causal mechanisms were suggested: (1) cranial constriction; (2) cranial settling; (3) spinal cord tethering; (4) intracranial hypertension; and (5) intraspinal hypotension
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