Malformation of the head and neck is a type of congenital condition that prevents the structures of the head and neck from developing normally. One major example of this type of condition is Chiari malformation, in which brain tissue extends into the spinal cord. While many people with head and neck malformation may not experience any symptoms, this type of condition can cause various potential problems, such as pain, poor motor function, difficulty with speech and swallowing, weakness, breathing problems, slow heart rhythm, and scoliosis.
What causes head and neck malformation?
Malformation of the head and neck often occurs when part of the skull or spine is deformed. In the case of Chiari malformation, the part of the skull containing the cerebellum is small or misshapen, placing pressure on the brain and causing part of it to extend into the upper spinal canal; this can also occur in association with a form of spina bifida called myelomeningocele. This can impact the flow of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), disrupting signals between the brain and body and potentially leading to a buildup of CSF in the spinal cord or brain.