Chiari malformation is a condition in which the cerebellum (back and bottom parts of the brain) "slips" into the space where the spinal cord travels into the skull. Symptoms are varied, but head and neck pain and dizziness are the most common.
The treatment of choice for Chiari malformation is surgery to decompress the affected area.
The surgery is performed under general anesthesia. A small area of the bone at the base of the skull is removed exposing the tough outer membrane of the brain called the dura. An incision is generally made in the dura to see the cerebellum and upper spinal cord. A piece of natural tissue (called periosteum), which lines the surface of the skull, (or a gortex graft) is then used to patch the area in an effort to enlarge the region of the cerebellum and spinal canal. The incision is then closed. The procedure generally takes 1 to 2 hours.