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Chiari Malformation

Chiari Malformation and Car Accidents – Chicago Area Brain Injury Lawyers

Greater Chicago Chiari Malformation Attorney at Law

Cullotta Law Offices – Glenview IL – 847-651-7191

If you have been in a recent accident that exacerbated a Chiari Malformation, a pre-existing neurological condition, and since the accident have started experiencing facial numbness, serious headaches, swallowing problems, vision problems, ringing in the ears, speech problems, and confusion, a post-traumatic lumbar disc disease, and or undergone surgery – contact a Greater Chicago Chiari Malformation Attorney at 847-651-7191 for a FREE Consultation. Do not delay.

What are Chiari malformations?

Chiari malformations (CMs) are structural defects in the cerebellum, the part of the brain that controls balance.

Chiari I Malformations ?

Chiari Malformations are classified by the severity of the disorder and the parts of the brain that protrude into the spinal canal. Type I involves the extension of the cerebellar tonsils (the lower part of the cerebellum) into the foramen magnum, without involving the brain stem. Normally, only the spinal cord passes through this opening. Type I — which may not cause symptoms — is the most common form of CM and is usually first noticed in adolescence or adulthood, often by accident during an examination for another condition. Type I is the only type of CM that can be acquired.

What are some symptoms of a Chiari malformation?

  • Many persons with a Type I CM do not have symptoms and may not know they have the condition
  • Individuals with other CM types may complain of neck pain, balance problems, muscle weakness, numbness or other abnormal feelings in the arms or legs, dizziness, vision problems, difficulty swallowing, ringing or buzzing in the ears, hearing loss, vomiting, insomnia, depression, or headache made worse by coughing or straining
  • Hand coordination and fine motor skills may be affected
  • Symptoms may change for some individuals, depending on the buildup of CSF and resulting pressure on the tissues and nerves
  • Infants may have symptoms from any type of CM and may have difficulty swallowing, irritability when being fed, excessive drooling, a weak cry, gagging or vomiting, arm weakness, a stiff neck, breathing problems, developmental delays, and an inability to gain weight

Are other conditions associated with Chiari malformations?

Individuals who have a CM often have these related conditions:

  • Hydrocephalus is an excessive buildup of CSF in the brain
  • Spina bifida is the incomplete development of the spinal cord and/or its protective covering
  • Syringomyelia, or hydromyelia, is a disorder in which a CSF-filled tubular cyst, or syrinx, forms within the spinal cord’s central canal
  • Tethered cord syndrome occurs when the spinal cord attaches itself to the bony spine and can, as disease progresses, result in permanent damage to the muscles and nerves in the lower body and legs
  • Spinal curvature is common among individuals with syringomyelia or CM Type I

How are Chiari malformations diagnosed?

Many people with CMs have no symptoms and their malformations are discovered only during the course of diagnosis or treatment for another disorder. 
The doctor will perform a physical exam and check the person’s memory, cognition, balance (a function controlled by the cerebellum), touch, reflexes, sensation, and motor skills (functions controlled by the spinal cord).

The physician may also order one of the following diagnostic tests:

  • An X-ray uses electromagnetic energy to produce images of bones and certain tissues on film. An X-ray of the head and neck cannot reveal a CM but can identify bone abnormalities that are often associated with CM. This safe and painless procedure can be done in a doctor’s office and takes only a few minutes.
  • Computed tomography (also called a CT scan) uses X-rays and a computer to produce two-dimensional photos of bone and vascular irregularities, certain brain tumors and cysts, brain damage after a head injury, and other disorders. Scanning takes about 3 to 5 minutes and is painless.
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the imaging procedure most often used to diagnose a CM. Like CT, it is painless and noninvasive.

How are Chiari malformations treated?

Some CMs are asymptomatic and do not interfere with a person’s activities of daily living. In other cases, medications may ease certain symptoms, such as pain. Surgery is the only treatment available to correct functional disturbances or halt the progression of damage to the central nervous system. More than one surgery may be needed to treat the condition.

Common types of CM surgery:

  • Posterior fossa decompression surgery is performed on adults with CM to create more space for the cerebellum and to relieve pressure on the spinal column. Surgery involves making an incision at the back of the head and removing a small portion of the bottom of the skull (and sometimes part of the spinal column) to correct the irregular bony structure. The neurosurgeon may use a procedure called electrocautery to shrink the cerebellar tonsils. This surgical technique involves destroying tissue with high-frequency electrical currents.
  • A related procedure, called a spinal laminectomy, involves the surgical removal of part of the arched, bony roof of the spinal canal (the lamina) to increase the size of the spinal canal and relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots.
  • The surgeon may also make an incision in the dura (the covering of the brain) to examine the brain and spinal cord. Additional tissue may be added to the dura to create more space for the flow of CSF.
  • Similarly, surgeons may open the spinal cord and insert a shunt to drain a syringomyelia or hydromyelia. A small tube or catheter may be inserted into the syrinx for continued drainage.

If you have been in a recent accident and since the accident have started experiencing facial numbness, serious headaches, swallowing problems, vision problems, ringing in the ears, speech problems, and confusion, a post-traumatic lumbar disc disease, and or undergone surgery – contact a Greater Chicago Chiari Malformation Car Accident Attorney at 847-651-7191 for a FREE consultation. Do not delay.

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2624 Patriot Blvd. Glenview, IL 60026 Phone: 847-651-7191 - Fax: 847-651-7191

1 N. State St.,#1900, Chicago, IL 60602 Phone: 847-651-7191 (By appointment only) - Fax: 847-651-7191