top of page



Chiari Malformation

Chiari Malformation includes a complex group of disorders
characterized by herniation of the cerebellum.

There are three main types of Chiari Malformation:

Chiari Malformation 1 (CM1) is the simplest and most prevalent form. CM2 and CM3 are severe, congenital malformations which cause complex defects of the brain and spinal cord. CM1 may be present at birth, may remain asymptomatic, may become symptomatic due to trauma, and may occur as an acquired disorder as opposed to congenital.


CM1 causes the rounded lobules on the under-surfaces of the cerebellum, called the cerebellar tonsils, to become herniated or to be moved or pressed away from their usual position inside of the skull downward through the large opening in the base of the skull (foramen Magnum) into the spinal canal. The herniated tissue (cerebellar tonsils) then block the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain and can lead to the formation of a cavity (Spinx) within the spinal cord.

Chiari 1 is generally considered to be congenital, although acquired cases from trauma do occur. Congenital Chiari Malformation may be completely asymptomatic and only become symptomatic after a traumatic brain or spinal cord injury. The action of a whiplash, coup-contre-coup injury or direct blow to the head can cause chiari to develop or become symptomatic in a person who did not have it previously.


Certain types of trauma cause or accentuate cerebellar tonsillar impaction in the foramen magnum or result in destabilization of a marginally compensated cerebrospinal fluid system. The most recent scientific evidence

indicates that Chiari 1 Malformation occurs in individuals who have an underdeveloped posterior cranial fossa and are therefore susceptible to hindbrain overcrowding and herniation. A traumatic brain injury can cause the herniation to occur with the resultant cerebrospinal fluid disturbances which are responsible for direct compression of nervous tissue.

Victims of Chiari Malformation experience severe headaches, neck pain and chronic pressure in the neck and head. Other common symptoms are dizziness, vertigo, disequilibrium, visual disturbances, ringing in the ears, difficulty swallowing, palpitations, sleep apnea, insomnia, depression, muscle weakness, impaired fine motor skills, chronic fatigue and painful tingling of the hands and feet.

Cases of CM1, particularly with less than 5mm herniation, are difficult to diagnose. Even with the widespread use of MRI technology, Chiari Malformation is commonly either overlooked or misdiagnosed. It is crucial to seek diagnostic help from medical and legal professionals who are well informed about this condition.


Please note: The information on this website is not meant to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should consult your health care provider regarding specific medical concerns or treatment.

bottom of page