The purpose of this investigation was to evaluate the prevalence of Chiari malformation, cervical spine anomalies, and neurologic deficits in patients with velocardiofacial syndrome. This study was a prospective evaluation of 41 consecutive patients with velocardiofacial syndrome, documented by fluorescence in situ hybridization, between March of 1994 and September of 1998. The 23 girls and 18 boys ranged in age from 0.5 to 15.2 years, with a mean age of 6.7 years. Nineteen patients were assessed with magnetic resonance imaging, 39 underwent lateral cephalometric radiography, and all patients were examined for neurologic deficits. Eight of 19 patients (42 percent) had anomalies of the craniovertebral junction, including Chiari type I malformations (n = 4), occipitalization of the atlas (n = 3), and narrowing of the foramen magnum (n = 1). One patient with Chiari malformation required suboccipital craniectomy with laminectomy and decompression. Fourteen of 41 patients (34 percent) had demonstrated neurologic deficits; 10 patients (24 percent) had velar paresis (6 unilateral and 4 bilateral). Chiari malformations, cervical spine anomalies, and neurologic deficits are common in velocardiofacial syndrome. Because these findings may influence the outcome of surgical intervention, routine assessment of patients with velocardiofacial syndrome should include careful orofacial examination, lateral cephalometric radiography, and magnetic resonance imaging of the craniovertebral junction.
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