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Karine's Chiari Page

Medical News

Chiari Malformation is a condition in which two parts of the brain, the brainstem and the cerebellum, are longer than normal and protrude down into the spinal canal. I was first diagnosed with this particular condition in 1994 when I was eleven years old.

At that time of my diagnosis, I was suffering from headaches, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. An MRI was performed which revealed that I had a Chiari I malformation.

Following that diagnosis, I have had 6 surgeries.

My first surgery, a standard decompression and laminectomy, was in December of 1994. My second surgery, in July 1995, was for the removal of scar tissue and part of the cerebellar tonsils. A dural graft was also placed. My third surgery, in October 1995, was for the insertion of a pressure monitor.

My fourth surgery was performed in March 1999 by Dr. Milhorat, who removed a calcified pseudomeningocele. In other words, bone had grown around a pocket of fluid. Dr. Milhorat described it as looking like a chicken egg filled with water. He also performed a larger decompression by removing a 5x4 piece of occipital bone and placing a titanium plate over the opening. (This created more room for my brain.)

My fifth surgery was a cardiac ablation. I had this done because I developed an atrial flutter with 2:1 block along with runs of supraventricular tachycardia. (My heart beat really fast and I would become lightheaded and faint whenever I stood up.)

A few months before my ablation, my headaches became worse and they were occurring more frequently. My dizziness returned and I started vomiting again. After a year of trying Diamox and Daranide and undergoing 3 spinal taps, Dr. Milhorat and Dr. Kula decided that I needed to have a programmable shunt placed. This was my sixth surgery. I had the shunt placed in June 2002 at North Shore University Hospital by Dr. Bolognese and Dr. Milhorat.

I am now 27 years old and have just graduated law school.
I still experience headaches and neck pain, but the symptoms are not as severe as they were before the surgery.

The shunt has definitely improved my symptoms and my way of life.

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Tips for Dealing with the Headache and Neckache

My Favorite Chiari and Syringomyelia Links

The World ACM Association
Chiari Malformation
Chiari Connection International
Syringomyelia Facts

American Syringomyelia & Chiari Alliance Project
NINDS Chiari Malformation Information Page
Canadian Syringomyelia Network
Chiari One!

North Shore LIJ
Children with Spina Bifida: A Resource Page for Parents & Professionals
Welcome to March of Dimes
The Chiari Institute