Analysis of Occipital Bone Development in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
Dr Imelda McGonnell
Chiari–like malformation (CM) is a condition that affects both dogs and humans with a very high incidence and cause significant clinical problems, including pain and progressive neurological deficits, including syringomyelia (SM). MRI Analysis of both adult dogs and adult humans with CM indicates that there are changes in the volume of the occipital skull that result in cerebellar compression and herniation. In addition, recent analysis has indicated there is also an increase in cerebellar volume that may exacerbate this condition.

In the published scientific literature, CM is often referred to as a condition inherent at birth that causes a reduction in the growth of the occipital bones. However, there have been no pathological investigations into bone development in affected humans or dogs.

We have undertaken morphological and histological analysis of the occipital skull bones of stillborn CKCS foetuses compared to control foetuses, which are from breeds of dog that do not develop CM/SM. This presentation discusses the findings of this analysis, proving that there is evidence of CM in the skull bones at birth. We discuss the presence of a suture in the supraoccipital bone, which may only be present in higher mammals such as dogs and humans, and this may pre–dispose them to development of CM. We also demonstrate that there are significant changes in the cellular architecture of the supra– and basi–occipital skull bones that may result in reduced growth after birth.
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