Treatment practices for Chiari malformation Type I with syringomyelia: results of a survey of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons

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The purpose of this study was to report the results of a survey of the American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons (ASPN) on treatment of Chiari malformation Type I (CM-I) with syringomyelia.


A questionnaire was circulated during the 2006 meeting of the ASPN, in which surgeons were surveyed on their management of patients with CM-I and syringomyelia. The survey consisted of questions about 4 clinical scenarios, common causes of surgical failures, and complications.


There were 72 respondents, representing more than 90% of attendees at the 2006 ASPN meeting and approximately half of the society's members. The majority of respondents (85%) reported that they perform posterior fossa decompression as first-line treatment for CM-I with syringomyelia. Seven percent perform bony decompression alone, 36% open the dura, and 27% shrink the tonsils. Very few respondents indicated that they offer syrinx drainage as first-line therapy (< 3%). Although all respondents reported that they treat symptomatic CM-I/syringomyelia patients surgically, 15% of respondents indicated that they do not operate on asymptomatic patients. Finally, respondents stated that their most common complications are pseudomeningocele and chemical meningitis.


This survey, given to a representative group of experienced North American pediatric neurosurgeons, confirms that posterior fossa decompression is still the preferred treatment modality in children with CM-I and syringomyelia, regardless of symptoms. Although most surgeons open the dura, preferred techniques for decompression vary. In contrast to the results of past surveys, conservative follow-up is now only used by a minority of respondents and only in the asymptomatic patient, and primary syrinx drainage seems to have lost popularity. A multicenter trial of surgical outcomes has been designed based on the information from this survey.

Abbreviations used in this paper: AANS = American Association of Neurological Surgeons; ASPN = American Society of Pediatric Neurosurgeons; CM-I = Chiari malformation Type I; CM-II = CM Type II; CNS = Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
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Contributor Notes

Address correspondence to: Bermans J. Iskandar, M.D., 600 Highland Avenue, K4/832, University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin 53792-8660. email:

© AANS, except where prohibited by US copyright law.

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