✓ A prospective study was undertaken in 1985 to better understand how the surgical manipulation of hind-brain herniation affected abnormal spinal curvature. Eleven patients under 16 years of age with Chiari malformation (not associated with myelodysplasia) and scoliosis of at least 15° were studied. The mean curve angle at the time of original treatment was 29°, with the convexity to the right in seven patients. The curvature was rapidly progressing in four patients. The most common presenting signs were myelopathy and weakness. Investigative procedures included spine radiographs with the patient standing and magnetic resonance (MR) imaging of the brain, spinal cord, and craniovertebral junction. Eight children had associated hydrosyringomyelia.
Surgical intervention consisted of a dorsal posterior fossa decompression in all patients and a transoral ventral decompression of the cervicomedullary junction in five. All patients were followed at 3, 6, and 12 months, and at yearly intervals thereafter with clinical evaluations, spine radiographs in the standing position, and postoperative MR imaging. The mean follow-up period was 35 months. The scoliosis improved in eight patients, stabilized in one, and progressed in two. Only one child required postoperative spinal fusion and instrumentation for progression of scoliosis. Hematomyelia or hematobulbia was associated with persistent scoliosis in two patients. The presence of hydrosyringomyelia and bone erosion did not preclude curve improvement. All patients under 10 years of age had resolution of their scoliosis, despite preoperative curves of more than 40°. These findings emphasize the importance of early surgical intervention, with the restoration of normal cerebrospinal fluid dynamics at the craniovertebral junction in children with symptomatic Chiari malformations.