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Conditions We Treat: Chiari Malformations

A Chiari malformation occurs at the bottom of the brain where the skull meets the spine and can create problems for your child in infancy or later in childhood. Johns Hopkins neurosurgeons have vast experience in diagnosing and treating Chiari malformations in children and adults.

Chiari Malformations: Why Choose Johns Hopkins?

mother and child consulting with specialist
  • Johns Hopkins pediatric neurosurgeons have diagnosed and treated many children with Chiari malformations types 1 and 2.
  • If your child’s Chiari malformation is associated with pain, weakness, balance problems, sleep apnea, a syrinx, scoliosis or hydrocephalus, our multidisciplinary team can provide appropriate treatment.
  • If surgery is recommended for your child’s arachnoid cyst, you will find a dedicated and compassionate environment for healing at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, which offers comprehensive care and support for the entire family as well as the individual child.
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Chiari Malformations: Treatments

Not all Chiari malformations cause problems, and some cause symptoms later in childhood or even adulthood. Regardless of your child’s individual situation, you will get the knowledge and experience you need to make confident choices for his or her care.

The pediatric neurosurgeons at Johns Hopkins have access to the full range of tests and procedures to address Chiari malformation symptoms or complications, including:

  • Observation (watchful waiting): Sometimes a doctor will discover a child’s Chiari malformation while looking for something else. If your child isn’t experiencing symptoms, your neurosurgeon may recommend regular re-examination to ensure the problem is not progressing.
  • Lumbar puncture for addressing a Chiari malformation or associated hydrocephalus.
  • Surgery: If your child is experiencing apnea, scoliosis, cranial neuropathy, syringomyelia, severe pain or other symptoms, surgery may be recommended. The surgeon may opt to move bone around the opening of the skull where it meets the spine in order to relieve compression and release the herniated tissue.

Chiari Malformation Experts

Our team has years of experience in diagnosing and providing therapy for Chiari malformations, from mild to severe. You can rely on our doctors, surgeons and advanced practitioners to formulate a treatment plan with your child’s best possible outcome in mind.

Dr. Alan Cohen Dr. Alan Cohen, Director of the Pediatric Neurosurgery Center


Alan R. Cohen, M.D.
Mari Groves, M.D.
Eric M. Jackson, M.D.
Shenandoah Robinson, M.D.

Advanced Practitioners

Stephanie Berry, P.A.-C
Kelly Hartnett, P.A.-C.
Heather Kerber, P.A.-C.

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Pediatric Neurosurgery: 410-955-7337


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