Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia in normal cavalier King Charles spaniels: a multiple diagnostic imaging approach

Couturier J, Rault D, Cauzinille L.

J Small Anim Pract 2008;49:438-443.

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of the study were (1) to report the incidence of Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia in a normal French cavalier King Charles spaniel breeding population; (2) to precise the standard computed tomography dimensions of the caudal fossa and (3) to investigate the use of ultrasonography in diagnosis of this syndrome. METHODS: Clinically normal adult cavalier King Charles spaniel underwent ultrasonographic examination of the spinal cord and caudal fossa. Computed tomography was used to measure the caudal fossa and magnetic resonance imaging allowed syringomyelia and cerebellar herniation identification. RESULTS: Of the 16 dogs in the study, seven had syringomyelia (43.7 per cent). All dogs had cerebellar herniation, suggesting Chiari-like malformation and also a tendency to occipital dysplasia. Computed tomography measurements of the caudal fossa are reported. In one dog, a syrinx was identified by ultrasonography. The only difference between dogs with or without syringomyelia was that dogs with Chiari-like malformation/syringomyelia were statistically older. CLINICAL SIGNIFICANCE: The incidence of Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia may be high in an asymptomatic population of cavalier King Charles spaniel . Computed tomography measurements reported in this study should now be compared with those of a symptomatic population to evaluate the hypothesis that dogs with Chiari-like malformation/syringomyelia syndrome have a smaller caudal fossa. This study did not identify a smaller caudal fossa in an asymptomatic cavalier King Charles spaniel population with syringomyelia. Ultrasonography probably has a low sensitivity for diagnosis of Chiari-like malformation/syringomyelia.