✓ Obstructive hydrocephalus complicating foramen magnum decompression (FMD) for a Chiari malformation (CM) Type I is rare. Two female patients (17 and 55 years old) presented with strain-related headaches. In both cases magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies confirmed a CM Type I, which was accompanied by syringomyelia in one case. Both patients underwent uncomplicated FMD with good initial recovery. Unfortunately, conditions in both patients deteriorated, with severe headaches occurring between Days 5 and 6 post-FMD. Decreased consciousness occurred in one case. In both patients, computerized tomography scanning demonstrated an acute obstructive hydrocephalus associated with bilateral infratentorial extraaxial fluid collections (EAFCs). In addition, left parafalcine and convexity EAFCs were present in one case. An emergency external ventricular drain was required in one patient, with delayed conversion to a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Spontaneous resolution occurred in the other patient without neurosurgical intervention. In both cases, MR imaging confirmed that each EAFC was subdural, resembled cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), and had distorted the superior cerebellum anteroinferiorly. Despite upper fourth ventricle/aqueduct compromise in one case, normal aqueduct flow artifacts were apparent on examination. All EAFCs resolved spontaneously.
Obstructive hydrocephalus complicating FMD is rare but invariably associated with infratentorial EAFCs, which were confirmed to be subdural hygromas in this report. The authors assert that hydrocephalus results from upper fourth ventricle/aqueduct compromise as a result of CSF subdural dissection following a pinhole arachnoid tear on durotomy. Because such hygromas spontaneously resolve, permanent shunt insertion should be avoided.