Neurosurgical FOCUS, Volume 31, Issue 3, Page E2, September 2011.
Jennifer Strahle, M.D., Karin M. Muraszko, M.D., Steven R. Buchman, M.D., Joseph Kapurch, B.S., Hugh J. L. Garton, M.D., M.H.Sc., and Cormac O. Maher, M.D.
Chiari malformation (CM) Type I is frequently associated with craniosynostosis. Optimal management of CM in patients with craniosynostosis is not well-established. The goal of this study was to report on a series of pediatric patients with both craniosynostosis and CM and discuss their management.
The authors searched the medical records of 383 consecutive patients treated for craniosynostosis at a single institution over a 15-year period to identify those with CM. They recorded demographic data as well as surgical treatment and outcomes for these patients. When MR imaging was performed, cerebellar tonsillar descent was recorded and any other associated findings, such as hydrocephalus or spinal syringes, were noted.
A total of 29 patients with both CM and craniosynostosis were identified. Of these cases, 28% had associated occipital venous abnormalities, 45% were syndromic, and 52% also had hydrocephalus. Chiari malformation was more likely to be present in those patients with isolated lambdoid synostosis (55%), multisuture synostosis (35%), and pansynostosis (80%), compared with patients with coronal synostosis (6%) or sagittal synostosis (3%). All patients underwent surgical repair of craniosynostosis: 16 had craniosynostosis repair as well as CM decompression, and 13 patients did not undergo CM decompression. Of the 7 patients in whom craniosynostosis repair alone was performed, 5 had decreased tonsillar ectopia postoperatively and 5 had improved CSF flow studies postoperatively. Both patients with a spinal syrinx had imaging-documented syrinx regression after craniosynostosis repair. In 12 patients in whom CM was diagnosed after primary craniosynostosis repair, 5 had multiple cranial vault expansions and evidence of elevated intracranial pressure. In 5 cases, de novo CM development was documented following craniosynostosis repair at a mean of 3.5 years after surgery.
Chiari malformation is frequently seen in patients with both multi- and single-suture lambdoid craniosynostosis. Chiari malformation, and even a spinal cord syrinx, will occasionally resolve following craniofacial repair. De novo development of CM after craniosynostosis repair is not unusual.