Complications Due to Arnold-Chiari Syndrome

The Chiari malformation condition is treated as a congenital one, and even some acquired forms of this condition have later been diagnosed. Arnold-Chiari malformation, in addition to causing many symptoms, also leads to certain complications. In some individuals, Arnold-Chiari malformation can turn into a progressive disorder and result in some serious impediments. In some patients, it may not give rise to associated symptoms and no intervention may be needed, as a result.

The complications associated with Arnold-Chiari condition include:

Spina Bifida

Spina bifida is a condition where the spinal cord of an affected individual, or its covering may not be fully developed. Here, a portion of the spinal cord is exposed, which can lead to serious conditions like paralysis. Also known as myelomeningocele, people who are affected with Chiari malformation type II usually exhibit this condition.


Also called hydrocephalus, this is a condition characterised by excess fluid accumulation within the human brain. For treatment, a flexible tube or shunt for diverting and draining the cerebrospinal fluid is inserted into one or more areas of the affected individual's body.

Tethered Cord Syndrome

This is a medical condition wherein the spinal cord of the patient attaches to the spine, which may - in turn - cause the spinal cord to stretch. The syndrome will most likely result in some serious forms of nerve and muscle damages in the lower part of the body.


Some individuals affected with Arnold-Chiari malformation also exhibit a certain medical condition called syringomyelia. When inflicted, a cavity or cyst (also called syrinx) formation is seen within the patient's spinal column. When the cerebrospinal fluid leads to something like a cyst or cavity within the spinal cord, the condition gets referred to as syringomyelia or hydromyelia. This is a form of chronic disorder wherein the spinal cord develops further by actually expanding and/or extending over a period of time. With the fluid cavity widening, it also displaces or injures the nerve fibres located in the spinal cord. This can lead to many symptoms, based on the size and the location of the syrinx development, including scoliosis and loss of sensation.

Syringomyelia may also be a result of several other causes. Although Arnold-Chiari malformation is the main cause of syringomyelia, a direct link is yet to be understood. This relates to the interference of normal cerebrospinal pulsations, which are caused due to the obstruction of the cerebellar tissue near the foramen magnum. This condition also arises due to a complication involving meningitis, trauma, tumour, arachnoiditis, and the tethered spinal cord. Here, the syrinx is formed in the damaged area of the spinal cord. Since the number of people surviving spinal cord injuries is on the rise, there are more cases of post-traumatic syringomyelia identified these days.


This represents abnormal widening of the spinal cord's central canal. The central canal, which is a thin cavity in the middle of the spinal cord, affects normal development during this condition.

Other Complications

Besides the above mentioned conditions, individuals may experience loss of sensitivity towards heat and cold, loss of bowel and/or bladder control, motor impairment and chronic pain in the spine.