While Dr McGonnell was away on maternity leave the research continued in her absence. She has been back in post for just over a month now and has sent an update on what’s been happening in her absence.

The one piece of information revealed by the study so far which the team feel secure in passing on to the Cavalier community is that there is little or no cerebellar herniation at birth. They have not seen a single case of proper cerebellar herniation in any of the stillborn pups submitted.

The CT imaging has so far not been as successful as they had hoped. This is partly due to the fact that the foetal skulls are so thin, and also to what can only be described as perhaps not the most hi tec equipment! However, although Dr Cappello has left the RVC his interest in the research remains and it is hoped that as he now has access to better software and scanning equipment in his new post the CT imaging will be more successful.

The team have requested that if possible a control group of similar sized spaniels should be found, and I’ve put out some feelers for these – but if anyone knows of any breeders they feel might be helpful, do please encourage them to get in touch with me.

In the meantime, the team remain grateful to us for contributing the tissue – no one before has ever done any research in to foetal dog brains, so this really is a whole new field. The initial research results have already changed the parameters – a veterinary neuropathologist is being brought on board to help in deciphering the results.

So – as ever – every new piece of information raises new questions. We can only hope that by proceeding we will get some answers and provide information that will be helpful in a whole variety of ways. The breeders who have already submitted tissue have my repeated thanks, and I hope this update might encourage others to participate.

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