Chiari Malformation

Chiari malformation type 1 (CM1) is a congenital abnormality that occurs where the brain and the spinal cord join together. In CM1, tissue in the lower part of the brain protrudes outside of the head, into the top of the spinal canal. Children with CM1 will usually experience headaches or head pain, but also can suffer fatigue, dizziness, muscle weakness, chronic pain, impaired vision, decreased feelings in the hands and feet, as well as cognitive/memory changes and poor school performance.

Treatment of CM1 typically involves decompression surgery, which creates more space for the brain tissue and cerebrospinal fluid in the back of the skull and reestablishes normal fluid circulation. As CM1 can affect every aspect of a child's life, we have developed a support network to assist children with Chiari malformation and their families. Many patients travel to the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital from across the world to seek our team's expert opinions and receive the most up-to-date treatments available.


Syringomyelia occurs when fluid builds up within the spinal cord and creates a cyst, known as a syrinx. This condition typically appears:

  • In connection with another congenital anomaly, such as Chiari malformation
  • With a mass lesion, like a spinal cord tumor
  • After trauma to the spinal cord

 Most types of syringomyelia are treated primarily with surgery.

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To speak to someone directly, please call 1-773-702-2123. If you have symptoms of an urgent nature, please call your doctor or go to the emergency room immediately.

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Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery