Posterior cranial fossa dimensions in the Chiari I malformation: relation to pathogenesis and clinical presentation

Neuroradiology. 1993;35(2):113-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00593966.


Skull dimensions were measured on lateral skull radiographs in 33 adult patients with MRI-verified Chiari I malformations and in 40 controls. The posterior cranial fossa was significantly smaller and shallower in patients than in controls. In the patients, there was a positive correlation between posterior fossa size and the degree of the cerebellar ectopia, which might indicate that a posterior cranial fossa which was originally too small had been expanded by the herniation of hindbrain structures at an early stage. Pyramidal signs and cerebellar symptoms and signs, which may be due to compression of neural structures, were associated with a large degree of ectopia and a relatively large posterior cranial fossa. Syringomyelia and headache, which may be due to the valve action of the herniated cerebellar tissue, were not associated with a particularly large posterior fossa or herniation. No special clinical presentation was associated with a very small posterior cranial fossa, which may indicate that a small posterior cranial fossa per se has little or no clinical significance, although it may be the primary developmental anomaly.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / diagnosis
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / diagnostic imaging*
  • Arnold-Chiari Malformation / pathology
  • Cranial Fossa, Posterior / diagnostic imaging*
  • Cranial Fossa, Posterior / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radiography