Conditions & Services

Head and Neck Malformation

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.

How is head and neck malformation treated?

These conditions are typically diagnosed through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or a computed tomography (CT) scan, giving your doctor a more detailed look at the brain, neck, and spine. If you are not experiencing any symptoms, your doctor may recommend periodic imaging procedures such as these to monitor the condition over time. Non-severe symptoms such as headaches may be treated through pain medication.
If head and neck malformation is causing you to experience severe symptoms, your doctor may recommend surgery to relieve pressure on the brain and spinal cord. Surgery may involve the removal of a small section of bone from the back of the skull or from the spinal column to create more space for the brain and spine.

Schedule an appointment with our Queens head and neck surgeons

You can schedule an appointment with a neurosurgeon to receive Chiari malformation treatment in Queens, NYC, as well as treatment for other malformations of the head and neck, at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Division of Neurosurgery by calling (718) 206-7001.