Chiari Decompression and Duraplasty – Is this Procedure Right for You?
When there is limited space for the cerebellum at the base of the skull, it can be forced down into the spinal canal. This condition is known as chiari malformation. The position of the cerebellum can block the flow of spinal fluid and compress both the brain and spinal cord. While symptoms vary, some cases can be so severe they require surgery to relieve the build-up of pressure. Chiari decompression surgery, or posterior fossa decompression, is a process where bone from the back of your skull and spine is removed to create more room for the brain and spinal cord. The aim of this procedure is to prevent further damage to these areas by providing more space and restoring the flow of spinal fluid, while relieving symptoms including headaches, balance issues, tingling, numbness and weakness that are associated to chiari malformation.
Why is Chiari Decompression and Duraplasty Needed?
Your doctor will take several factors into consideration before recommending this procedure to treat your chiari malformation. Chiari decompression and duraplasty surgery may be necessary for the following reasons:
- Your symptoms are causing extreme discomfort and the malformation is the source of these symptoms. Surgery may be the only form of treatment that will slow down or stop the progression of symptoms.
- Symptoms are interfering with daily life and cannot be relieved through conservative treatments.
- To alleviate pressure and prevent further damage to the brain and spinal cord.
What to Expect during a Chiari Decompression and Duraplasty Procedure?
In recent years, medical advancements have made minimally invasive chiari decompression possible. This procedure accomplishes the same outcome as traditional surgery, but your surgeon makes smaller incisions using specialized tools and endoscopic visualization. Read on to learn more about what you can expect before, during and after the procedure:
- Before the Procedure: Prior to your surgery, it is important to inform your doctor about your complete medical history. You may have to undergo some presurgical testing and your doctor will inform you about certain medications you should stop taking. In preparation for the surgery, a portion of the scalp near the base of your skull will be shaved. Also, your head will be secured in order to prevent movement.
- During the Procedure: A small incision is made at the back of the head and specialized surgical tools are used to retract tissue and expose the affected area. Using these tools and an endoscope, the surgeon can make a small opening in the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord, also known as the dura. This incision can be repaired without the use of a graft or patch. A cutting tool is then used to remove a small portion of bone to create more space, and the incision is closed with sutures.
- After the Procedure: Depending on your pre-existing health, you may have to spend a few days recovering at the hospital. Recovery may take anywhere from 6-12 weeks before normal activities can be resumed. Additionally, periodic imaging tests may be performed throughout this period to ensure that the natural flow of spinal fluid is restored.
The Benefits of Chiari Decompression and Duraplasty
While symptoms can take some time to resolve following surgery, most patients experience some form of immediate relief from common symptoms like neck pain, headaches, dizziness, nausea, difficulty swallowing or speaking, blurred vision, trouble sleeping, and numbness in the face and limbs. Additional benefits of chiari decompression and duraplasty surgery include:
- Alleviates symptoms associated with chiari malformation
- Helps prevent further damage to the brain and spinal structures
- Minimally invasive approach limits disruption to the surrounding tissues
- Less post-operative discomfort and reduced healing time
- Eliminates the need for a patch
Choosing surgical treatment for your chiari malformation can be a daunting prospect for some individuals. Fortunately, Jackson Neurosurgery Clinic is committed to making the process as safe and comfortable as possible through the use of minimally invasive surgical techniques, in addition to an emphasis on patient-focused care. Dr. Lewis is a renowned neurosurgeon with over 30 years of experience in the field of neuroscience. He specializes in treating chiari malformations, in addition to many other neurological disorders, at one of the top clinics in the state, and has also these valuable skills and techniques to other surgeons across the country.
Contact us today to learn more about chiari decompression and duraplasty or to schedule a consultation. We’ll find a solution that works for you. Call us at (601) 366-1011.