Q:

Is Chiari malformation surgery dangerous?

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Quick Answer

Chiari malformation surgery includes dangers of bleeding, severe pain, infection, leakage of cerebrospinal fluid and neurological issues, according to the Beaumont Neuroscience Center of Excellence. The pain experienced after this operation is often severe, and doctors must be careful to avoid giving patients too many painkillers.

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Full Answer

The most dangerous part of Chiari surgery is the opening of the dura, the thick membrane that protects the brain, according to Columbia University Medical Center. Both the removal of the overlying bone and the opening of the dura are intended to relieve pressure on the central nervous system. The dura is an important protection for the brain, however, and opening it exposes the central nervous system and the protective cerebrospinal fluid to contamination. This can lead to a brain infection, such as meningitis or a disruption in cerebrospinal fluid pressure and flow through leakage.

Chiari surgery is performed to treat Chiari malformation, a neurological birth defect, says Columbia University Medical Center. The defect affects the bones at the opening of the skull that can cause abnormally high pressure on the lower brain and the spinal cord. This malformation can also cause scoliosis, abnormal curvature of the spinal column. The condition causes neurological symptoms such as swallowing difficulty and weakness in the limbs.

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