Characteristics Of Cerebrospinal Fluid Flow In Cavalier King Charles Spaniels Analyzed Using Phase Velocity Cine Magnetic Resonance Imaging

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Veterinary Radiology & Ultrasound 2009;50:467-476.

Syringomyelia is an important morbidity source in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Although abnormal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow secondary to Chiari malformations is thought to cause syringomyelia in humans, this relationship is unknown in dogs. We used phase-contrast magnetic resonance (MR) imaging to evaluate CSF flow in dogs. Fifty-nine Cavalier King Charles Spaniels were assigned a neurologic grade reflecting their neurologic status. Five normal control dogs of other breeding were imaged for comparison. The presence of syringomyelia was noted from sagittal MR images. The pattern and velocity of CSF flow were assessed using phase-contrast cine MRI at the foramen magnum, C22013C3 disc space, and within syrinxes. Flow was measured most easily with the neck flexed to mimic standing. CSF flow velocity in the dorsal aspect of the subarachnoid space at the foramen magnum was significantly higher in control dogs than Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (P=0.035). Flow was obstructed at the foramen magnum in 41 of 59 Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Turbulent flow and jets were associated with syringomyelia presence and severity, and CSF flow velocity at C2/3 dorsally was inversely related to the presence of syringomyelia (P=0.0197). Peak dorsal subarachnoid space CSF flow velocity at the foramen magnum and C22013C3 were together highly predictive of syringomyelia. CSF flow can be assessed in dogs using phase-contrast cine MRI. Obstruction to flow at the foramen magnum is common in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and CSF flow pattern and velocity are related to the presence of syringomyelia.