Procedure

Chiari Decompression- Spinal Surgery

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Chiari decompression is a surgical procedure. Doctors use it to treat a condition called Chiari malformation. 

 
Synonyms: Cranio-cervical decompression, Foramen Magnum Decompression, Suboccipital craniotomy, Posterior fossa decompression
 
People with this condition do not have enough space in the skull to accommodate certain parts of the brain. Increased pressure inside the skull pushes the brain down into space where the spinal cord is present. 
 
There are three types of Chiari malformation. They are Chiari malformation type I, type II, and type III. Chiari decompression is used to treat the first type. 
 
Tests before Chiari Decompression
Your doctor may order several tests before the surgery. These tests confirm the diagnosis of Chari malformation type I. 
 
Besides, they help to detect if the fluid has accumulated in the brain or spinal cord. The tests include:
 
MRI (Magnetic resonance imaging)
The decision to perform Chiari decompression primarily depends on the findings from MRI. Thus, MRI is considered the gold standard of Chiari malformation diagnosis. 
 
CT scan (Computed tomography scan)
A CT scan produces three-dimensional images of the bones in the brain. The images give valuable information about the positions of the bones. 
 
What happens during Chiari decompression?
Before the surgeon starts operating, the doctors make the patient unconscious by giving a combination of inhaled and injectable drugs.  
 
Then, the surgeon cuts a certain area in the back of the head and removes a small part of the bone. This releases pressure inside the skull and creates a room for the brain. As a result, the brain stops squeezing downwards. 
 
Sometimes, the surgeon may also remove a small part from the top of the backbone to release pressure on the spinal cord. Moreover, in patients who have an accumulation of fluid in the brain, the surgeon may use a tube to remove the excess fluid. 
 
Sources:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2712622/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4591443/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2712622/
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12382129
 
About the Author:
Shailesh Sharma is a registered pharmacist and medical content writer from Nepal. He enjoys digging into latest findings of research and strongly believes in evidence-based health information. He graduated from Pokhara University School of Health and Allied Sciences and was engaged in clinical pharmacy and academia in various regions of Nepal for almost 9 years. Shailesh also serves as Project Manager of Graduate Pharmacists’ Association, Nepal (GPAN
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