The authors assessed the prognostic significance of various clinical and radiographic characteristics, including C1–C2 facet malalignment, in terms of surgical outcomes after foramen magnum decompression of adult Chiari malformation type I.
The electronic medical records of 273 symptomatic patients with Chiari malformation type I who were treated with foramen magnum decompression, C1 laminectomy, and duraplasty at Mayo Clinic were retrospectively reviewed. Preoperative and postoperative Neurological Scoring System scores were compared using the Friedman test. Bivariate analysis was conducted to identify the preoperative variables that correlated with the patient Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS) scores. Multiple linear regression analysis was subsequently performed using the variables with p < 0.05 on the bivariate analysis to check for independent associations with the outcome measures. Statistical software SPSS version 25.0 was used for the data analysis. Significance was defined as p < 0.05 for all analyses.
Fifty-two adult patients with preoperative clinical and radiological data and a minimum follow-up of 12 months were included. Motor deficits, syrinx, and C1–C2 facet malalignment were found to have significant negative associations with the CCOS score at the 1- to 3-month follow-up (p < 0.05), while at the 9- to 12-month follow-up only swallowing function and C1–C2 facet malalignment were significantly associated with the CCOS score (p < 0.05). Multivariate analysis showed that syrinx presence and C1–C2 facet malalignment were independently associated with the CCOS score at the 1- to 3-month follow-up. Swallowing function and C1–C2 facet malalignment were found to be independently associated with the CCOS score at the 9- to 12-month follow-up.
The observed results in this pilot study suggest a significant negative correlation between C1–C2 facet malalignment and clinical outcomes evaluated by the CCOS score at 1–3 months and 9–12 months postoperatively. Prospective studies are needed to further validate the prognostic value of C1–C2 facet malalignment and the potential role of atlantoaxial fixation as part of the treatment.