Chiari malformation is considered a genetic condition, though there are also acquired forms. The condition develops due to a structural defect in the base of the skull and cerebellum, which causes part of the cerebellum to extend into the upper spinal canal. The condition affects about one in 1,000 people, though most cases are asymptomatic.
Chiari malformations develop from a defect that causes a misshapen skull or one that is smaller than normal. Symptoms can arise from excess pressure on the brain or impeding the flow of cerebral spinal fluid, which acts as a cushion, circulates chemicals and nutrients, and removes waste products from the brain.
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