Arnold-Chiari Malformation After Injury

Arnold-Chiari Malformation After Injury
By Kimberly BishopJuly 29, 2018

This post discusses an Arnold-Chiari malformation after injury. The Bishop Law Firm represents personal injury and workers' compensation clients in North Carolina and we do not get paid unless we win your case. Call us today for a free case evaluation, (919) 615-3095.

This post is not offered as medical advice regarding traumatic brain injury. If you or someone you care for has suffered an injury, please seek immediate medical attention.

What is an Arnold-Chiari Malformation?

As you will see from the picture above, an Arnold-Chiari malformation occurs when brain tissue extends into the spinal canal because it is being pressed. In addition to pressure, a Chiari Malformation can happen later in life due to blunt trauma or by a drain of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).

There are four types of Chiari Malformation based on the amount/type of brain tissue that is pushed into the spinal cord. Different parts of the brain control different functions, emotions and sensory perception (Via NIH and Mayo Clinic ).

Chiari Malformation Type I - Of the four types of malformation, the least amount of brain tissue extends into the spinal canal with Type I. Type 1 happens when the lower part of the cerebellum (called the cerebellar tonsils) extends into the foramen magnum (via NIH). There can be no symptoms with Type 1, but if there are, headaches are the most common characteristic.

Chiari Malformation Type II - In this type, more brain tissue is involved. Both the cerebellum and brain stem tissue protrude into the foramen magnum.

Chiari Malformation Type III and IV - The most severe types and usually diagnosed at birth. Severe symptoms can include neurological deficit, brain damage and physical deformity.

Human Brain Anatomy

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Symptoms depend on the type and size of the brain tissue that are involved however, size is not always the determining factor. For example, the cerebellum is only about ten percent of the total weight of the brain, but it contains roughly half of the brain’s neurons, specialized cells that transmit information via electrical signals (Via HealthLine ).

Headaches, issues with balance, sensation, dizziness, weakness/numbness and vision problems are all possible symptoms (Via WebMD ). Chiari Malformations are also linked to Hydrocephalus , Spina Bifida , and Syringomyelia which we have written about in the past. An MRI, CT or x-ray (note that x-rays only show bone not brain tissue but will be used to detect bone abnormalities causing the Chiari Malformation) can all be used to diagnosis brain trauma.


Many with Chiari-malformations do not have symptoms and thus do not need treatment but for those that do, pain medication and surgery are the most common treatment options. A posterior fossa decompression surgery attempts to create more space for the cerebellum by removing bone from the bottom of the skull (craniectomy) or the roof of the spinal canal (laminectomy). If this does not remove the pressure, the surgeon may want to perform electrocautery to remove the cerebellar tonsils. Shunting may also be performed to help relieve excess spinal fluid (Via NIH ).

Arnold- Chiari Malformation Traumatic Brain Injury

An Arnold-Chiari Malformation after traumatic brain injury can be caused by head or neck trauma. Though rare, under the wrong circumstances, even the physical trauma of a mild tbi or whiplash injury can cause Chiari symptoms. You may already have a dormant malformation that becomes symptomatic after a head injury .

If you have been injured in an accident, immediately report to the hospital/doctor and let them know your symptoms and what type of injury you sustained. Please note that most hospitals offer x-rays only to accident victims and x-rays will not demonstrate the Arnold-Chiari Malformation only the bone around it. Depending on the severity of your malformation, you may need several surgeries to correct it while taking heavy pain medications to help with the severe pain and dizziness. You may also need future medical treatment.

Speaking with a North Carolina personal injury attorney about your Arnold-Chiari Malformation after injury can help you receive all compensation for which you are entitled including recovery for medical expenses, lost wages, future medical care and loss of consortium to name a few.

The Bishop Law Firm represents car victims of auto accidents in RaleighCaryDurhamRocky MountWilsonFayettevilleSmithfieldLouisburgChapel HillRoanoke Rapids and more! We do not get paid unless we win your case, (919) 615-3095. Call us today!

Also read NC Car Accident Lawyer

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