Association between spinal cord dorsal involvement and pain in syringomyelia secondary to canine chiari malformation
N D Jeffery
BVSc, PhD, CertSAO, DSAS(ST), DipECVN, DipECVS, FRCVS

This study was designed to test the hypothesis that pain associated with syringomyelia in dogs is related to spinal cord dorsal horn damage.

Syrinx dimensions and precise location within the spinal cord were determined by masked observers form magnetic resonance images of 55 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS) with syringomyelia. After removal of masking, syrinx parameters were compared between the cohort of dogs that exhibited pain with those that did not.

Maximum syrinx width was the strongest predictor of pain in dogs with syringomyelia. Syrinx width was also correlated with scratching behaviour and scoliosis.

Syrinx width was strongly correlated with dorsal horn involvement. Dogs with pain were also more likely to have extensive dorsal grey column damage.

Large syrinxes with dorsal horn damage are associated with persistent pain which may have implications for the success of surgical and medical management. Our results suggest that the pain behaviour expressed by this group of patients is likely to be 'neuropathic pain' resulting form disordered neural processing in the damaged dorsal horn. As such it is likely that conventional analgesic medication may be ineffective.

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