Emergency Department Visits Following Suboccipital Decompression for Adult Chiari Malformation Type I

James Feghali, Elizabeth Marinaro, Yangyiran Xie, Yuxi Chen, Sean Li, Judy Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Postoperative emergency department (ED) visits following suboccipital decompression in Chiari malformation type I (CM-1) patients are not well described. We sought to evaluate the magnitude, etiology, and significance of postoperative ED service utilization in adult CM-1 patients at a tertiary referral center. Methods: A prospectively maintained database of CM-1 patients seen at our institution between January 1, 2006 and December 31, 2019 was used. ED visits occurring within 30 days after surgery were tracked for postoperative patients, while comparing clinical, imaging, and operative characteristics between patients with and without an ED visit. Clinical improvement at last follow-up was also compared between both groups of patients in a univariable and multivariable analysis using the Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS). Results: In 175 surgically treated patients, 44 (25%) visited an ED in the 1-month period after surgery. The most common reason for seeking care was isolated headache (41%), and concentration disturbance at presentation was the only factor significantly associated with a postoperative ED visit (P = 0.023). The occurrence of a postoperative ED visit was independently associated with a lower chance of clinical improvement at last follow-up (adjusted odds ratio of CCOS ≥13 = 0.35, P = 0.021; adjusted odds ratio of CCOS ≥14 = 0.38, P = 0.016). Conclusions: Adult CM-1 patients undergoing surgery at a tertiary referral center have an elevated rate of postoperative ED visits, which are mostly due to pain-related complaints. Such visits are hard to predict but are associated with worse long-term clinical outcome. Interventions that decrease the magnitude of postoperative ED service utilization are warranted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e789-e796
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • Emergency service
  • Hospital
  • Syringomyelia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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