Pediatric and adult Chiari malformation Type I surgical series 1965-2013: a review of demographics, operative treatment, and outcomes.J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2015 Feb; 15(2):161-77.JN
Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is a hindbrain disorder associated with elongation of the cerebellar tonsils, which descend below the foramen magnum into the spinal canal. It occurs in children and adults. Clinical symptoms mainly develop from alterations in CSF flow at the foramen magnum and the common subsequent development of syringomyelia.
The authors reviewed English-language reports of pediatric, adult, and combined (adult and pediatric) surgical series of patients with CM-I published from 1965 through August 31, 2013, to investigate the following: 1) geographical distribution of reports; 2) demographics of patients; 3) follow-up lengths; 4) study durations; 5) spectrum and frequency of surgical techniques; 6) outcomes for neurological status, syrinx, and headache; 7) frequency and scope of complications; 8) mortality rates; and 9) differences between pediatric and adult populations. Research and inclusion criteria were defined, and all series that contained at least 4 cases and all publications with sufficient data for analysis were included.
The authors identified 145 operative series of patients with CM-I, primarily from the United States and Europe, and divided patient ages into 1 of 3 categories: adult (>18 years of age; 27% of the cases), pediatric (≤18 years of age; 30%), or unknown (43%). Most series (76%) were published in the previous 21 years. The median number of patients in the series was 31. The mean duration of the studies was 10 years, and the mean follow-up time was 43 months. The peak ages of presentation in the pediatric studies were 8 years, followed by 9 years, and in the adult series, 41 years, followed by 46 years. The incidence of syringomyelia was 65%. Most of the studies (99%) reported the use of posterior fossa/foramen magnum decompression. In 92%, the dura was opened, and in 65% of these cases, the arachnoid was opened and dissected; tonsillar resection was performed in 27% of these patients. Postoperatively, syringomyelia improved or resolved in 78% of the patients. Most series (80%) reported postoperative neurological outcomes as follows: 75% improved, 17% showed no change, and 9% experienced worsening. Postoperative headaches improved or resolved in 81% of the patients, with a statistical difference in favor of the pediatric series. Postoperative complications were reported for 41% of the series, most commonly with CSF leak, pseudomeningocele, aseptic meningitis, wound infection, meningitis, and neurological deficit, with a mean complication rate of 4.5%. Complications were reported for 37% of pediatric, 20% of adult, and 43% of combined series. Mortality was reported for 11% of the series. No difference in mortality rates was seen between the pediatric and adult series.
Before undergoing surgical treatment for CM-I, symptomatic patients and their families should be given clear information about the success of treatment and potential complications. Furthermore, surgeons may benefit from comparing published data with their own. In the future, operative CM-I reports should provide all details of each case for the purpose of comparison.