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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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April 2002

Q. I've been diagnosed with Chiari I, hydrocephalia and (maybe) a tumor in my left temporal lobe. Headaches and occasional dizziness are the main symptoms. Are these conditions related and what can I look forward to?

A. The condition known as an Arnold-Chiari malformation is thought to develop before birth. The cause is not known. It is an abnormality of the anatomy at the lower part of the brain where the spinal cord carrying the nerves exits from the skull and enters the spinal canal. In many cases the condition causes no symptoms, and at other times, neurologic symptoms can occur with age or injury. These can include disturbances in strength, coordination, and sensation.

If the symptoms are due to hydrocephalus (pressure build-up around the brain), medication or surgery can relieve this. The anatomy in this area can be well visualized using an MRI, also the test that would clarify the possibility of a tumor. The prognosis or outlook for the condition is quite variable so no general statement can be made in this regard. Regular care by a neurologist or neurosurgeon is advisable.



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