Find Relief from Chronic Chiari Malformation Symptoms

Chiari malformation is a neurological condition that causes discomfort, pain, and other chronic symptoms that can greatly impact patients' lives. Patients suffering from Chiari malformation have a skull with a base that is too small to contain the full volume of the brain. As the brain reaches its maximum size, it is compressed by the skull and begins to grow into the top portion of the spinal canal. Repercussions of this development can be debilitating, but it is treatable.

Dr. Peter Nakaji is a neurosurgeon at the Barrow Neurological Institute who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of Chiari malformation. Years of experience teaching on the subject have allowed Dr. Nakaji to hone his treatment of the condition, leading to referrals from all around the world. To learn more about Chiari malformation and available treatment options, contact us today. Our Phoenix practice is conveniently located to serve Scottsdale and surrounding communities. 

About Chiari Malformation

Chiari malformation type I, which develops during the late teen years or early adulthood, is usually not diagnosed until it causes symptoms. When the brain cannot properly expand within the skull, it continues to grow through the lower opening of the skull. There, it pushes into the area already occupied by the spinal cord.

Chiari malformation type II occurs in infants, and is typically characterized by a greater amount of brain tissue extending out of the lower portion of the skull. This condition may be diagnosed while the infant is in utero or shortly after birth. A third, rare type of Chiari malformation also occurs in infants, causing the brain to expand through a hole in the back of the skull. 

Common Symptoms & Diagnosis

Symptoms of Chiari malformation range in severity and are influenced by the way the brain protrudes from the skull. Common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Numbness or tingling in the head, neck, or appendages
  • Dizziness or problems with coordination
  • Complications affecting throat function, including swallowing or breathing
  • Choking, gagging or nausea
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Vision problems
  • Muscle weakness

During an examination, Dr. Nakaji may use a range of technologies to diagnose Chiari malformation. X-rays can display abnormalities in the skull that are typical of Chiari malformation, and computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans can reveal bone and tissue irregularities.

Treatment Options

Dr. Nakaji utilizes minimally invasive, or "keyhole" surgical techniques. This technique uses very small incisions, and has a number of benefits, like minimized healing time and scarring compared to traditional craniotomy treatment.

During surgery, Dr. Nakaji removes a small portion of the bottom of the skull and places a patch to create adequate space for the brain, reducing its constriction and relieving pressure exerted on the spinal cord. This, in turn, helps eliminate symptoms stemming from the constriction.

Not all forms of Chiari malformation require surgical treatment. Some patients experience a low or manageable level of pain or discomfort, and may choose other treatment options. Dr. Nakaji focuses heavily on patient education, and thoroughly discusses treatment benefits and risks with patients to individualize a care plan that meets their lifestyle and goals. 

Schedule an Appointment

Dr. Nakaji has improved the lives of many Chiari malformation patients, and exercises an unparalleled level of care and experience you can trust. If you are seeking diagnostic services, or want to learn more about Chiari malformation treatment, contact our office to schedule an appointment. 

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