Reports of sudden death associated with minor head trauma in adults with the Chiari I malformation are rare. We describe two such cases, occurring in a 71-year-old individual and in a 22-year-old individual. In both cases, postmortem examination revealed prominent cerebellar tonsillar herniation and, in one, associated tonsillar sclerosis and hydrocephalus. Evidence of trauma was minimal in both, and was not sufficient to explain these fatalities. We describe the neuropathologic findings and discuss the differential diagnostic considerations in these cases of sudden death. The implications regarding manner of death are also emphasized.
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