\n \n \n \nChiari malformation is a structural issue in the cerebellum, in which brain tissue extends downward into your spinal canal.\nThis rare condition occurs when the space at the bottom rear of your skull is smaller than it should be. This can cause the cerebellum and brain stem to be pushed downward, blocking cerebrospinal fluid, resulting in excess pressure on the cerebellum and brain.\nThe malformation may be present at birth or develop while the brain is growing and not show symptoms until adulthood.\nFind out details on chiari malformation treatment on UPMC.com and learn more about making an appointment.\nSymptoms of Chiari Malformation\nMany people never experience symptoms of Chiari malformation and never need treatment. However, the most common symptom is a severe headache that starts in the back of your head and radiates forward, usually after coughing\u00a0and\/or sneezing.\nOther symptoms include:\n\nNeck pain\nLoss of muscle strength in hands and arms\nDizziness or balance problems\nDouble or blurred vision\n\nDiagnosing Chiari Malformation\nMost often, a diagnosis comes by ruling out all other possibilities. Your doctor will review your symptoms and medical history and perform a physical exam. You will also have a range of imaging tests, such as CT and MRI scans.\nBecause the condition is rare, it’s important to see a doctor with experience. Experts at the UPMC Chiari Center take a comprehensive approach to evaluating, diagnosing, and treating Chiari malformations.\nChiari Malformation Surgery\nThe primary treatment for Chiari malformation is surgery.\n\nThe most common surgery is called posterior fossa decompression. A neurosurgeon removes a small section of bone in the back of the skull to make more space for your brain.\nThe surgeon may also open the covering of your brain (the dura) and sew a patch in place to enlarge the covering. This makes more space and relieves the pressure of blocked cerebrospinal fluid, which is what causes symptoms.\n\nChiari symptoms can overlap with other neurological conditions, so it’s important to get a thorough evaluation from an experienced neurosurgery team.