Object. The authors report their experience with 15 pediatric patients who underwent resection or shrinkage of the cerebellar tonsils without craniectomy or laminectomy, for the management of Chiari I malformation.
Methods. The procedure was performed in six boys and nine girls with a mean age of 10 years. Thirteen patients presented with the congenital form of this disorder and two patients with Chiari I malformation caused by lumboperitoneal shunting. Clinical complaints included headaches (seven patients), scoliosis (four patients), numbness of the extremities (four patients), and upper-limb weakness (two patients). Two patients presented with failure to thrive and one with vocal cord palsy. Eight patients (six girls and two boys) had syringomyelia. The patients' symptoms had developed within a mean time period of 21 months (range 1–70 months). In all patients the cerebellar tonsils were exposed through a dura mater—arachnoid incision at the occipitoatlantal space. In seven patients the tonsils were resected and in the remaining eight patients the tonsils were shrunk by coagulating their surfaces.
All patients improved postoperatively. Gliosis with cortical atrophy was observed in the resected neural tissue. Syringomyelia was reduced in seven of eight patients. The mean length of the follow-up period was 7 months.
Conclusions. Removal of herniated cerebellar tonsils can be sufficient for alleviating symptoms in patients with Chiari I malformations.