is there risk involved with surgery to correct chiari disease

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    Due to advances in medicine and technology, surgical procedures are generally considered to be safe, and a great majority of patients who undergo surgery will not experience any complications. However, there are certain risks involved in any procedure which are important to be aware of in order to make an informed treatment decision.

    Risks Specific to this Procedure: The risks associated with this surgery include, but are not limited to, damage to brain or cerebellum leading to increased neurologic problems, loss of hearing, facial weakness, swallowing difficulty, facial numbness, impaired memory and/or cognition, weakness or paralysis, numbness, seizures, loss of speech, ringing in the ear, dizziness, balance problems, cerebrospinal fluid leakage requiring placement of lumbar drain, and need for further surgery.

    Infection: Invasion of tissue by bacteria or other germs occurs to some degree whenever a cut, incision or puncture is made. In most instances, through the natural defense mechanisms of the body, healing of the affected area occurs without difficulty. In some instances antibiotic medicines are prescribed and at times additional surgical measures may be necessary to combat infection.

    Hemorrhage: The cutting of blood vessels causes bleeding and this occurs in every surgical incision. This bleeding is usually controlled without difficulty. At times, blood transfusions are required to replace blood loss. If blood transfusions are given, there are additional risks of liver inflammation, hepatitis, and the possibility of receiving Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS). There is no absolutely reliable way to predict these unwanted reactions, some of which may be quite serious and even lead to death.

    Drug Reactions: Unexpected allergies, lack of proper response to medications or illness caused by the prescribed drugs are possibilities. It is important for you to inform your physician and your anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist of any problem you or your family have had with reactions to drugs and which medications you have taken in the past six months, including over-the-counter drugs, especially aspirin.

    Anesthesia Reactions: There may be unusual or unexpected responses to the gases, drugs or methods used to anesthetize you which can lead to difficulties with lung, heart or nerve function. Eating or drinking before anesthesia increases the risks of vomiting which may cause significant complications. Inform your anesthesiologist or certified registered nurse anesthetist of problems you and your family have had with anesthesia.

    Blood Vessel Inflammation and Clotting: It is impossible to predict the occurrence of blood vessel inflammation and clotting problems. If blood clots form, they can move from where they formed to other areas of the body and cause injury.

    Injury to Other Organs: Because of the closeness of other organs to the area being operated on, there may be injury to other organs. The stress of surgery or the procedure may also harm other organ systems of the body.


    Alternative Treatments

    The alternative management modalities for this procedure (depending on the nature of the symptoms) are physical therapypain management using medications or injections, certain alternative medicine therapies (acupuncture), possibly other surgical procedures, and expectant management with no treatment at all.  If the decision is made to not have this procedure, there may be associated risks which need to be discussed with a physician.

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