The impact of depression on surgical outcome in Chiari malformation type I: an assessment based on the Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale

James Feghali, Yuxi Chen, Yangyiran Xie, Christopher Chen, Judy Huang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE The effect of depression on outcomes in Chiari malformation type I (CM-1) is unclear. The authors sought to determine whether depression affects outcome in a surgical cohort of CM-1 patients by using a validated outcome assessment tool, the Chicago Chiari Outcome Scale (CCOS). METHODS The authors performed a retrospective analysis of a prospectively maintained database of 149 adult CM-1 patients undergoing suboccipital decompression with duraplasty and cranioplasty. Baseline presentation characteristics and composite as well as subcomponent CCOS scores at last follow-up were compared between depressed and nondepressed patients. Outcome comparisons included both a univariable analysis and a logistic regression model adjusting for several covariates. RESULTS The prevalence of depression in the study cohort was 28% (41/149). Baseline demographic and imaging characteristics were similar between the 2 patient groups. Dizziness (p = 0.019) and imbalance (p = 0.015) were significantly more common among depressed patients, but clinical symptoms and severity were otherwise comparable. On univariable analysis, depressed patients were significantly less likely to experience improvement in pain symptoms (OR 0.14, 95% CI 0.03–0.61, p = 0.003) and functionality (OR 0.17, 95% CI 0.03–0.99, p = 0.049). No significant difference was identified in complications, nonpain symptom improvement, or overall composite CCOS improvement. Similar results were obtained on multivariable analysis controlling for several covariates. CONCLUSIONS Depression is independently associated with poor surgical outcome in adult CM-1 patients, namely when evaluating improvement in pain symptoms and functionality. Optimizing the management of depression preoperatively and ensuring follow-up for psychiatric comorbidity in the postoperative period may possibly lead to improved outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)273-280
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurosurgery: Spine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2020


  • Arnold-Chiari malformation
  • Cervical
  • Decompression
  • Depression
  • Surgical

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology

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