Approach of Syringomyelia and mitral valve dysplasia in the Netherlands
Paul J.J. Mandigers
DVM, MVM, PhD, DECVN,
DRNVA-Internal Medicine Utrecht University

Syringomyelia and mitral valve dysplasia (MVD) are known problems within the Dutch Cavalier population resulting in a reduced estimated life expectancy of 8 - 10 years, whereas other breeds of a similar weight are expected to live from 13 to 15 years.

Until recently both diseases were only addressed on a consulting basis making exact estimates of prevalence impossible. Based on patient records of referred cases to the section of Internal Medicine and Neurology of the VSC De Wagenrenk (n=7800; 2000-2006) 0.1% of all referred dogs were CKCS of which 0.05% was referred for cardiac problems (n=39). During this period only one CKCS was diagnosed as having a clinical form of syringormyelia.

Syringomyelia is expected to become more prevalent with time because asymptomatic dogs were allowed to breed. Similarly future cardiac cases can be free of MVD at young age. Thus without any breeding recommendation the incidence of both diseases was expected to rise.

Due to the private initiative of one Dutch breeder starting from 2002 a total of 173 CKCS have been screened for Syringomyelia using an MRI facility in Meppei (NL).

A total of 30% had a grade A/B, 14% C, 39% D, 13% E and 4% F. Overall 56% had Syringomyelia. Blood samples from all dogs were taken for DNS isolation.

During this time at UU a PhD position was offered to Clare Rusbridge at UU to facilitate her scientific achievements. A total of 27 CKCS were examined at UU or Wagenrenk for syringomyelia and valvular disease.

Currently we have 200 blood samples of a total of 200 CKCS stored for DNA research.

The eradication of both diseases is difficult because of the high estimates of both disorders. Currently the best option, as we did in other breeds, is to screen as much CKCS as possible for syringemyelia as well as CVD and exclude dogs with early onset disease from breeding programs. Only by means of finding a possible marker for both disorders will it be possible to start a new breeding program.

We believe that the current collection of blood samples, although still too limited is the only solution.

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