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Cranio-cervical decompression

Foramen magnum decompression

If you have been diagnosed with a Chiari malformation, our neurosurgeons can treat you with a decompression procedure

About

Cranio-cervical (foramen magnum) decompression is a surgical procedure to treat Chiari malformation. This is when part of your brain protrudes into your upper spinal canal. As a result your neurosurgeon will remove small sections of bone from your skull and spine. This allows room for brain tissue to exist in this area.

Need to know

  • What happens icon plus

    Cranio-cervical decompression is carried out under general anaesthetic. This is also known as foramen magnum decompression. The procedure can take several hours. Your surgeon will likely follow these steps: - Make a 5-10cm incision at the back of your neck/top of your back - They will then remove part of the back of your skull and the first vertebral bone in your neck - The membrane layer (dura) that rests on the back of your brainstem and top of your spinal cord is opened. This allows more space for your brain tissue and completes the decompression procedure - The incision area at the back of your neck will be glued and/or stitched together
  • How to prepare icon plus

    Your consultant will explain the procedure and answer any questions you might have.
  • Afterwards icon plus

    After the procedure you will spend at least one day in the intensive care unit. You may have a probe attached to your finger to measure your oxygen levels. After this time you will be moved to a regular ward. You will begin a gradual recovery process, including light exercise such as slow walking and physiotherapy. Whilst still in hospital you can eat and drink as normal. When you go home you may still experience some discomfort and nausea for a while. Your consultant will give you medication for this. They will of course answer any questions you have and arrange a follow-up appointment for you.
Consultant in theatres

Our consultants

We're proud to work with leading experts across a range of medical fields, whose skills are matched by their integrity and compassion.

Our facilities

From complex surgery to straightforward procedures, we provide exceptional care across our network of hospitals, outpatient centres and specialist clinics.

  • facility-pgh-hero-579x579

    The Princess Grace Hospital

    42-52 Nottingham Place

    London W1U 5NY

    Appointments 020 3131 7216
    Enquiries 020 3130 6833

  • Wellington-south-hero-facility-582-582

    The Wellington Hospital

    Wellington Place

    London NW8 9LE

    Appointments 0207 483 5148
    Enquiries 020 3131 7478

  • London Bridge Hospital Facility

    London Bridge Hospital

    27 Tooley Street

    London

    SE1 2PR

    Appointments and Enquiries 020 7234 2009
    Imaging Appointments 020 7234 2773
    Switchboard 020 7407 3100

  • facility-HSC-flag-hero-582x582

    The Harley Street Clinic

    35 Weymouth Street

    London

    W1G 8BJ

    Appointments 020 7034 8181
    Enquiries 020 3131 7962

  • The Portland Hospital

    The Portland Hospital

    205 - 209 Great Portland Street

    London

    W1W 5AH

    Childrens enquiries 020 3811 4906
    Maternity enquiries 020 3131 5998
    Women's health 020 3811 5137

Request an appointment

We're happy to help you make an appointment with one of our experienced consultants.

This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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