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Chiari-like Malformation and Syringomyelia

Mon, Oct 27, 2014

Patient: “Chewy”, a 3 year-old female spayed Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (CKCS)

History: The owner reports that Chewy often scratches at her neck. In addition, she will occasionally cry out when the owner is fastening her collar or touching her around her head and neck.

Physical exam findings: Normal. However, her veterinarian is suspicious of a neurological disorder called Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia. This would be a likely diagnosis based on Chewy’s breed and clinical signs. Chewy’s veterinarian orders an MRI study including a portion of the brain, skull, and cervical spinal cord (neck).

MRI findings: Abnormal shape of the skull causing compression of the brain; abnormal fluid accumulation within the spinal cord.

Diagnosis: Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia. This is a common syndrome in the CKCS breed. Dogs may be mildly or severely affected. The MRI allows the veterinarian to rule out other causes of neck pain such as intervertebral disc disease or cancer. Once the diagnosis of Chiari-like malformation with syringomyelia is made, the veterinarian is able to recommend a course of treatment (medical or surgical).