Association between cervical and intracranial dimensions and syringomyelia in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel
Harvey Carruthers
BVMS MRCVS

The aim of the study was to establish if intracranial and vertebral measurements can predict the occurrence of syringomyelia. The study tested the hypothesis that syringomyelia results from caudal fossa overcrowding and is influenced by cervical vertebral abnormalities. Magnetic resonance images (MRI) of 74 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS) were reviewed. 55 of the dogs had syringomyelia.

The MRI scans were blinded and read by 3 people at 2 sites. The caudal fossa base length and height were combined to give a measure of caudal fossa volume (the caudal fossa triangle). The widest vertical diameter across the spinal canal at C1/C2, at C2, at C3, the widest point across C2/C3 joint, and the angulation of the C2/C3 spine were measured. These measurements were compared between dogs with and without syringomelia.

There was no significant difference between syrinx and no-syrinx groups with respect to caudal fossa triangle suggesting that factors other than reduced caudal fossa volume are involved in the pathogenesis of SM. There was also no difference between the vertebral canal diameters at C1/C2, C2 or at C2/C3 suggesting that cranial cervical canal stenosis was not a contributing feature to the development of syringomyelia. A surprising finding was that the mid C3 vertical spinal diameter was significantly larger in the syrinx group.

Further studies are planned to establish whether this is truly involved in the pathogenesis of syringomyelia. There was no significant difference between C2/C3 angulation between syrinx and no-syrinx groups.

Finally within the syrinx group there was a significant difference in the C1/C2 diameter between dogs demonstrating pain and those without pain. This area also requires further study.

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