Basilar invagination is a condition in which the opening for the spinal cord at the base of the skull closes or narrows. This is caused by the skull folding inward, which is caused by the second vertebra pushing upward. Sometimes, the resulting narrowing of the space causes brain stem compression, syringomyelia, hydrocephalus, pseudotumor cerebri, dysarthria, central sleep apnea, and orthostatic hypotension, many of which can be severely debilitating. and in worst cases, death can occur.
While there are surgical treatments for basilar invagination, they are only recommended for patients who have the worst prognosis. Treatment for others with less-severe conditions often includes lifestyle changes and frequent monitoring. Regardless, most patients require the use of medical equipment. Here are several types of in-home medical equipment that can help those with basilar invagination and the comorbid conditions that are typical with the condition.
1. HALO Traction
Basilar invagination and the resulting comorbid conditions are due to the mechanical instability of the region where the head and neck join, which is called the craniovertebral junction. For those with severe cases, the nasal passageways are used by a surgeon to reach the area to remove the folds at the base of the skull and well remove the middle portion of the second vertebra, which is a surgical procedure called a laminectomy.
Patients who go through surgery for basilar invagination must wear a halo vest apparatus during recovery. If no surgery is recommended, the patient may still be given a prescription for HALO traction. Essentially, this is a traction device that sits on the shoulders and upper chest and keeps the head in perfect alignment and fixation. It provides the much-needed stability to help reduce the risks of developing or worsening comorbid conditions.
2. Sleep Apnea Machine
As was mentioned earlier, central sleep apnea is a comorbid condition of basilar invagination. In fact, research shows that 88% of basilar invagination patients have sleep apnea. This is likely due to the brain stem compression and/or the compression of the cranial nerves interferes with the body's autonomic nervous system and, thus, results in difficulty breathing while sleeping. It is crucial to have a sleep study done soon after a diagnosis of basilar invagination.
If you are found to have sleep apnea, a machine will be prescribed to help you keep breathing when you sleep. There are several types of machines available, including continuous positive airway pressure, bilevel positive airway pressure, adaptive servo-ventilation, as well as ones that provide supplemental oxygen.
For more information, contact a company like Lincoln Mobility.