Some children with Chiari malformation and achondroplasia require posterior fossa decompression that typically includes expansion of the dural tube with duraplasty. Infants and young children, however, may have a more distensible dura mater than do older patients. Furthermore, the structures that compress the hindbrain of young patients may be the bone and abnormally thickened atlantooccipital membrane, i.e. dural band, rather than the dura mater. We have treated 7 children who had Chiari malformation or achondroplasia with posterior fossa decompression without duraplasty. All children were symptomatic; 3 had Chiari-I malformations, 2 Chiari-II malformations, and 2 achondroplasia. The age range was 3 months to 2.5 years (mean 15.1 months). The exent of tonsillar herniation and other hindbrain anomalies was assessed on preoperative magnetic resonance imaging. The infants with Chiari-II malformations underwent cervical laminectomies, whereas the other young children with Chiari-I malformations or achondroplasia underwent suboccipital craniectomy as well as cervical laminectomy. In Chiari malformation, the dural band was divided; in achondroplasia, there was no identifiable dural band. Following bony decompression and division of the identifiable dural band, immediate expansion of the stenotic region with visible cerebrospinal fluid space posterior to the neural elements could be ascertained by intraoperative ultrasonography. During a follow-up period ranging from 4.5 months to 4 years (mean 22 months), all patients made improvements in their symptoms, 3 having complete resolution of their symptoms. This preliminary experience indicates that in children 2 years of age or younger, posterior fossa bony decompression without duraplasty can be effective treatment for Chiari malformations or achondroplasia.
- Chiari malformations
- Intraoperative ultrasound
- Posterior fossa decompression