Clivus length distinguishes between asymptomatic healthy controls and symptomatic adult women with Chiari malformation type I.Neuroradiology. 2020 Nov; 62(11):1389-1400.N
While the presence of cerebellar tonsillar descent in radiological images has been used as evidence of Chiari malformation type I (CMI), tonsillar ectopia alone is insufficient to identify individuals with symptomatic CMI. This study sought to identify differences in brain morphology between symptomatic CMI and healthy controls in adult females.
Two hundred and ten adult females with symptomatic CMI and 90 age- and body mass index-matched asymptomatic female controls were compared using seven brain morphometric measures visible on magnetic resonance images. The CMI and control groups were divided into four subgroups based on the tonsillar position (TP) relative to the foramen magnum: group 1 was made up of healthy controls with normal TP (TP < 0 mm); group 2 was comprised of control individuals with low-lying TP (1-5 mm); group 3 was comprised of symptomatic CMI patients with low-lying TP (1-5 mm); group 4 contained symptomatic CMI patients with severe tonsillar descent (6-13 mm).
All morphometrics for symptomatic CMI with severe tonsillar descent were significantly different than those for both control groups. The CMI group with low-lying TP was significantly different for four measures when compared to controls with normal TP. However, only clivus length was statistically different between the CMI and healthy control groups with low-lying TP.
This study demonstrates that clivus length distinguishes adult female healthy individuals with low-lying tonsils from those with symptomatic CMI. Further investigation is required to understand the importance of a shorter clivus length on CMI symptomatology and pathophysiology.