A Congenital Malformation Commonly Affecting Children Born With Spina Bifida

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As a congenital malformation commonly affecting children born with Spina Bifida, the Arnold-Chiari malformation, or Chiari Malformation Type II, involves the irregular extension of both the cerebellar tonsils and the brain stem tissue into the opening to the spinal canal – the foramen magnum (NINDS, 2013). Typically, the brain stem and the cerebellum sit above the opening to the spinal canal, where the brain stem houses most of the cranial nerves that supply the body. Providing the control centres for vital bodily functions such as breathing, regulation of the body’s internal environment through maintenance of heart rate and blood pressure, as well as providing sensory and motor control to a significant portion of the body (Joynt, 2014), the Arnold-Chiari malformation causes substantial problems for patients. Likewise, the congestion of these structures in the spinal canal limits the flow of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the brain to the spinal cord (Medway, 2006), causing other medical issues that become regularly associated with Spina Bifida as a result, such as hydrocephalus (Columbia Neurosurgery, n.d.). Issues associated with the Arnold-Chiari malformation can only be relieved, rather than treated, through surgical processes that aim to eliminate or reduce these symptoms (WebMD, 2014).

The Arnold-Chiari malformation refers to the second type of malformations associated with the Chiari group, where the irregular formation of the brainstem and cerebellum sees them

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