Chiari malformations are characterized by the cerebellar tonsils extending into the upper cervical spinal canal. Many patients with Chiari malformation experience headaches or develop a cyst in the spinal cord inferior to the cerebellar tonsils. Some symptomatic patients benefit from a surgical procedure to enlarge the foramen magnum and others do not. The causes of symptoms and variable response to surgery remain unknown. Imaging studies have shown that patients with a Chiari malformation exhibit increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) velocities compared to subjects without the malformation. Improved methods of analyzing the CSF fluid dynamics are needed to evaluate the impact of increased fluid velocities on pressure differentials in the upper cervical spinal canal and the potential impact of surgery on flow dynamics in patient specific geometries.

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