Brainstem Conundrum: The Chiari I Malformation

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PURPOSETo describe the Chairi I Malformation in relation to the anatomy of the brain and spinal cord, the common manifestations of the condition, diagnostic considerations, and management for the primary care provider.DATA SOURCESExtensive review of the world-wide scientific literature on the condition, supplemented with actual case studies.CONCLUSIONSThe adult Chairi I Malformation is an insidious congenital brainstem anomaly that consists of caudal displacement of the cerebellar tonsils, brainstem and fourth ventricle into the upper cervical space, resulting in overcrowding of the posterior fossa.IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICEDue to the vague, and often ambiguous presenting symptoms of Chiari I Malformation, many patients are misdiagnosed with conditions such as multiple sclerosis, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, or psychiatric disorders. Patients frequently experience symptoms months to years prior to accurate diagnosis and often incur irreversible neurologic deficits.

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