Positional dysphagia secondary to a Chiari I malformation | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Positional dysphagia secondary to a Chiari I malformation

| Reprints
July 1, 2010
by David L. White, MD, Catherine J. Rees, MD, Susan G. Butler, PhD, Stephen B. Tatter, MD, PhD, Lisa W. Markley, MS, CCC-SLP, and Michael S. Cartwright, MD


We describe a previously unreported phenomenon: positional dysphagia secondary to a Chiari I malformation. A 38-year-old woman presented with progressive dysphagia and cough. Flexible endoscopic evaluation of swallowing detected severe pharyngeal dysphagia and aspiration, as well as an intermittent cough reflex with all consistencies in the upright position. Various compensatory strategies were attempted to relieve the aspiration, but only assumption of the supine position was successful. Subsequent magnetic resonance imaging detected a herniation of the cerebellar tonsils to the level of C2 and the presence of a cervical syrinx-findings consistent with a Chiari I malformation. After surgical decompression of the malformation, the patient's symptoms completely resolved.

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