What Is Cerebellar Tonsillar Ectopia?

Cerebellar tonsillar ectopia (CTE) is a downward displacement of the lower portion of the cerebellum (called tonsils) in the brain, according to upright-health.com. These tonsils go downward into the hole at the base of the skull where the brain stem is located. The tonsils of the cerebellum then get compressed up against other parts of the brain.

One of the side effects of CTE is a headache. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reveals that these headaches go away when the tonsils are positioned normally in the brain. Upright-health.com states that one of the main causes of CTE is a malformation in the skull that can be corrected by surgery in cases of chronic pain that cannot be cured by other means. Neurosurgeons may have to shave down bones near the affected area to relieve pressure on the tonsils. Plates and screws are then inserted to stabilize bones weakened by the procedure.

CTE is also known as a Chiari malformation. Incidents of CTE occur in about 0.5 to 0.7 percent of the general population in America, according to Conquer Chiari. The National Center for Biotechnology Information explains that Chiari malformations are normally found in older children and adults. According to estimates, between 300,000 and 500,000 people are affected by this disorder in the United States.