Year In Research: 2007

Two thousand seven wasn't a bad year for Chiari research, but it wasn't a great year either. According to a PubMed search - PubMed is an online database of medical literature - there were 161 English language publications in 2007 (see Table 1) which at least mentioned Chiari and/or syringomyelia. While this is an increase from previous years, Chiari research continues to be dominated by Case Reports which simply describe one or two patients. Specifically 71 of the 161 citations (44%) were such Case Studies. Eliminating publications in which Chiari is incidental, reduces the number even further to 72 (see Table 2).

Table 1
2007 PubMed CM/SM Citations By Subject Type (161 Total)

Subject # of Citations
Total 161
Incidental Reference 18
Case Study 71
Outcomes 8
Surgical Technique 11
Theories 8
Diagnosis 2
Symptoms 4
Related Conditions 18
Chiari II 3
Animal 5
Morphological 4
Reviews 2
Scoliosis 4
  • Incidental refers to a study which mentions Chiari or syringomyelia in passing, but CM/SM is not the focus of the publication

  • Case studies refer to publications which report on 3 or fewer patients and are mostly descriptive in nature

Table 2
Yearly CM/SM Research Citations (2004-2007)

'07 '06 '05 '04
Total English Language Citations 161 131 137 122
Adjusted Total 72 52 39 53

Note: Adjusted Total refers to the Total Number of Citations minus the Incidental and Case Study citations

Although this represents and increase over previous years, the overall number is still very small compared to other diseases of a comparable nature. Plus, much of the increase from 2006 was due to publications focused on spina bifida.

Still, there is always good news to be found. In total there were 27 publications on surgical technique, outcomes, and theories about Chiari and syringomyelia. Also, morphological studies, which involve measurements of the craniocervical area, are becoming a widely accepted method of research into Chiari.

Some of the things we learned in 2007 include:

  • Cerebellar tonsil tissue removed during surgery was clearly abnormal.

  • Adults with scoliosis tend to have poorer outcomes

  • Bone only decompression is an emerging alternative children and possibly even adults

  • Sleep apnea is extremely common among Chiari patients, but usually responds well to decompression surgery

  • There are likely several underlying causes of Chiari, which can manifest with different symptomology and anatomical features

  • Complex Chiari cases tend to have poorer outcomes

One of the highlights of the year was the UIC/Conquer Chiari Research Symposium. This one day event brought together more than 40 surgeons and scientists to present and discuss recent developments. The conference was such a success that Conquer Chiari is planning an expanded conference for 2008.

Outside of the Chiari arena, there was a major breakthrough in stem cell research. Scientists successfully used skin cells to create adult stem cells. The technique was replicated by several groups and appears to be fairly simple and stable.

Although there is still a long way to go for Chiari research to get to where it needs to be, in many ways 2007 was a much better year than 2006. Hopefully this represents the first small step up the mountain.

Related C&S News Articles:

The Year In Research 2006, Same As It Ever Was

The Year In Research - 2005

The Year In Research