Article Index

Differential diagnosis between ME/CFS and Chiari Malformation

Around the year 2000, there was significant interest in whether some cases of ME/CFS were in caused by Chiari Malformation—an anatomical condition in which a portion of the brain is squeezed too tightly into the top of the spinal canal; or alternatively the upper portion of the spinal cord is squeezed into a spinal canal that is too narrow.

Some specialists diagnosed this condition in persons exhibiting ME/CFS symptoms. These physicians carried out surgeries to correct the Chiari malformation. Some patients improved, others did not.

A number of ME/CFS specialists were greatly concerned about the Chiari malformation diagnosis and subsequent surgery. For more information on this differential diagnosis, please see Voelker, "Chiari Conundrum: Researchers Tackle a Brain Puzzle for the 21st Century," JAMA 301, No. 2 (2009): 147-149.