Syringomyelia and Chiari-like Malformation MRI Screening

Advanced Animal Imaging offers Syringomyelia (SM) and Chiari-like Malformation (CM) MRI screening for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, English Toy Spaniels, Brussels Griffons, Yorkshire Terrier, Maltese Terrier, Chihuahua, Miniature Dachshund, Miniature and Toy Poodle, Bichon Frise, Pug, Shih Tzu, Pomeranian, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Boston Terrier, Pekingese, Miniature Pinscher, Mini Bull Terrier, and French Bull Dog. Defined by the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club, the diagnosis of syringomyelia (SM) can be confirmed by MRI screening.

Advanced Animal Imaging MRI Screening

Syringomyelia is a serious condition in which fluid-filled cavities develop within the spinal cord near the brain.  One of the common signs of SM includes scratching in the air near the neck.  SM is rare in most breeds but has become widespread in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS’s).  The number of cases has dramatically increased since 2000 and is estimated that 95% of CKCS’s have Chiari-like Malformation (CM or CLM) also known as caudal occipital malformation syndrome (COMS) or occipital hypoplasia (OH).  It is estimated that nearly 50% of Cavaliers have SM and appears to become more severe in each generation.  Experts believe this is a genetically inherited trait.

Advanced Animal Imaging MRI Screening

Another common disorder among Cavaliers is Primary Secretory Otitis Media (PSOM).  PSOM is a viscous mucus plug which fills the middle ear and causes the tympanic membrane to bulge.  Symptoms from PSOM are similar to SM and can be determined through MRI screening.

The Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club has become pro-active and made breeding recommendations for breeders to select against this trait.  SM seldom can be detected in young puppies but is evident at a few years old.

Recommendations Include:

1)    Both the sire and dam of a proposed mating be screened and are classified as normal.

2)    Offspring of any mating should also be MRI screened before breeding.

3)    Any dog screened before 2.5 years old should have a second screening when they are older.

4)    Dogs can be screened no earlier than 6 months of age.

5)    If a limited MRI exam is performed:

  1. A minimum area covered is from approximately the level of the thalamus / corpus callosum to the cervical vertebra 5 (C5).
  2. Both the TW1 and TW2 = sagittal images are obtained in addition to TW1 and / or TW2 transverse images through the upper cervical spinal cord.
  3. An assessment is also made for presence / absence of ear disease and ventricular enlargement.

6)    The interpretation of images is made by diplomat level radiologists, neurologists and in special circumstances, by orthopedic surgeons with recognized expertise in this area.

Code Age (yrs) Syringomyelia Breed To
    Absent or less than 2 mm  
A Over 2.5 central canal dilation in A, C, D
    the C2-C4 region only  
C Under 2.5 Absent A (Re-scan after 2.5 yrs.)
D Over 2.5 Present but Asymptomatic A
E Under 2.5 Present but Asymptomatic Should not be Bred
F Any Present and Symptomatic Should not be Bred

Exams will be reviewed and interpreted by an experienced veterinary radiologist as well as a veterinary neurologist from Ohio State University. 

Advanced Animal Imaging is dedicated to providing Cavalier King Charles Spaniel breeders with an affordable option for Syringomyelia and Chiari-like Malformation MRI screening.  AAI follows the guidelines and MRI imaging protocol defined by Dr. Clara Rusbridge DVM and the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Club.

Ask about our pricing and discount rates.  Contact AAI today to schedule your SM and CM MRI Screening exam by calling 260-434-1555.