Intradural pathology and pathophysiology associated with Chiari I malformation in children and adults with and without syringomyelia


Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics, Ahead of Print.
OBJECTIVEThe pathophysiology underlying tonsillar herniation and CSF obstruction in Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) is unclear, and the cause of CM-I–associated syringomyelia is not well understood. A better understanding of this pathophysiology is important for an improved treatment strategy. Therefore, the authors sought to identify, characterize, and examine the intradural pathology and CSF flow pathophysiology in the posterior fossa and at the level of the foramen magnum that occurs in the setting of CM-I. They determined the incidence of these intradural findings and assessed differences across age, with the degree of tonsillar herniation, and in the presence and absence of syringomyelia.METHODSA prospective database initiated in March 2003 recorded all intraoperative findings during surgical treatment of children and adults with CM-I with or without syringomyelia. A total of 389 surgeries for CM-I were performed in 379 patients between March 2003 and June 2016. A total of 109 surgeries were performed in 109 patients with CM-I (without osseoligamentous abnormalities) in whom both a posterior fossa extradural and intradural decompression with duraplasty was performed (first-time intradural procedures). Using a surgical microscope, intradural pathology and obstruction of CSF channels were identified and assessed. Student t-tests and Fisher’s exact tests compared groups in a series of univariate analyses, followed by multivariate logistic regression.RESULTSThe following intradural pathological entities were observed (prevalence noted in parentheses). These include those that did not obstruct CSF flow channels: opacified arachnoid (33.0%), thickened arachnoid (3.7%), ischemic and gliotic tonsils (40.4%), tonsillar cysts (0.9%), and inferior descent of the fourth ventricle and cervicomedullary junction (CMJ) (78.0%). The following intradural pathological entities were observed to obstruct CSF flow channels: medialized tonsils (100%), tonsil overlying and obstructing the foramen of Magendie (21.1%), intertonsillar and tonsil to CMJ arachnoid adhesions (85.3%), vermian posterior inferior cerebellar artery branches obstructing the foramen of Magendie (43.1%), and arachnoid veils or webs obstructing or occluding the foramen of Magendie (52.3%). Arachnoid veils varied in type and were observed in 59.5% of patients with CM-I who had syringomyelia, which was significantly greater than the 33.3% of patients with CM-I without syringomyelia who had an arachnoid veil (p = 0.018). The presence of CM-I with an arachnoid veil had 3.22 times the odds (p = 0.013, 95% CI 1.29–8.07, by multivariate logistic regression) of being associated with syringomyelia, adjusting for tonsillar herniation. The inferior descent of the fourth ventricle and CMJ occurred with a greater degree of tonsillar herniation (p < 0.001) and correlated with a cervicomedullary kink or buckle on preoperative MRI.CONCLUSIONSIntradural pathology associated with CM-I with or without syringomyelia exists in many forms, is more prevalent than previously recognized in patients of all ages, and may play a role in the pathophysiology of CM-I tonsillar herniation. Arachnoid veils appear to partially obstruct CSF flow, are significantly more prevalent in cases of CM-I with syringomyelia, and therefore may play a role in the pathophysiology of CM-I–associated syringomyelia.

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