Correlation of hindbrain CSF flow and outcome after surgical decompression for Chiari I malformation

Matthew J. McGirt, April Atiba, Frank J. Attenello, Bruce A. Wasserman, Ghazala Datoo, Muraya Gathinji, Benjamin Carson, John D. Weingart, George I. Jallo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective: Many patients with symptomatic Chiari I malformation experience symptom recurrence after surgical decompression. Improved radiographic predictors of outcome are needed to better select patients most likely to benefit from surgical intervention. We examined whether ventral or dorsal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow dynamics assessed by cine phase-contrast MRI scans could predict response to posterior fossa decompression for Chiari I malformation. Methods: Forty-four consecutive pediatric patients undergoing pre-operative cine phase-contrast MRI followed by posterior fossa decompression for Chiari I malformation were retrospectively reviewed. The association of pre-operative ventral or dorsal CSF flow abnormalities at the foramen magnum with symptom-free survival after surgical decompression was assessed via Kaplan-Meier plots and log-rank analysis. Results: Mean±SD age at time of surgery was 8±6 years. Sixteen (36%) patients demonstrated decreased CSF flow dorsal to the cervico-medullary brainstem alone. Fourteen (32%) patients demonstrated abnormal CSF flow both ventral and dorsal to the cervico-medullary brainstem. Fourteen (32%) had normal hindbrain CSF flow. Overall, 13 (30%) patients experienced some degree of symptom recurrence by last follow-up (mean of 27±16 months post-operatively). Symptom recurrence did not differ as a function of degree of tonsilar ectopia (p=0.55). Abnormal CSF flow dorsal to the cervico-medullary brainstem was not associated with symptom recurrence after surgical decompression (p=0.10). However, combined pre-operative ventral and dorsal CSF flow abnormality was associated with a significant reduction (2.6-fold) in the risk of post-operative symptom recurrence (p<0.05). Only one patient (7%) with pre-operative ventral and dorsal CSF flow pathology experienced symptom recurrence 3.5 years after surgery versus 12 (40%) patients without ventral CSF flow pathology. There were otherwise no differences in baseline clinical, radiological, or operative variables between patients with abnormal versus normal ventral CSF flow. Conclusion: The presence of decreased CSF flow both ventral and dorsal to the cervico-medullary brainstem was associated with improved response to hindbrain decompression for Chiari I malformation in children. Cine phase-contrast MRI may be a useful tool for surgical risk stratification and identifying patients that may be optimal surgical candidates. Combined ventral and dorsal hindbrain CSF flow pathology may better predict response to posterior fossa decompression compared to dorsal CSF flow pathology alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)833-840
Number of pages8
JournalChild's Nervous System
Volume24
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2008

Keywords

  • CSF flow
  • Chiari malformation
  • Cinephase-contrast MRI
  • Outcome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology

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