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Veterinary Aspects

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Syringomyelia

Abstract

Syringomyelia is an increasingly common diagnosis in veterinary medicine, especially in toy breed dogs where selections for small size and brachycephalic head shape are contributing factors. The most common cause is a condition analogous to Chiari I malformation in humans. This chapter details the pathophysiology, clinical signs, medical and surgical management, progression and prognosis of the canine condition. As a naturally occurring model of both syringomyelia and central neuropathic pain, observations that may have relevance to understanding of the pathophysiology of Chiari malformation and syringomyelia in humans are discussed. Finally, current knowledge of genetic factors and breeding advice is reviewed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Written guidelines for the appearance, movement and temperament of a dog, which is the template used by breeders to produce typical specimens of the breed and the tool of the judge for assessing dogs in the show ring. In the UK the Kennel Club was founded in 1873 and took ownership of the breed standards drafted by the early dog breeders.

  2. 2.

    This autosomal recessive-inherited paroxysmal exertion-induced dyskinesia is characterised by hypertonicity and abnormal posturing, usually occurring after exercise or periods of excitement. It is due to a 16 kb deletion encompassing the first three exons of the brevican gene (BCAN). Brevican is one of the central nervous system-specific members of the hyaluronan-binding chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan family. It is important in the organisation of the nodes of Ranvier in myelinated large diameter axons, and disruption of this region results in a delay in axonal conduction (Forman et al. 2012). Dogs can be screened for the disorder with a DNA test.

  3. 3.

    The ependymal region contains stem cells which proliferate in response to injury and have the potential to generate new neurons and glial cells in adulthood (Attar et al. 2005; Hugnot and Franzen 2011).

  4. 4.

    The terminal ventricle (ventriculus terminalis, or fifth ventricle) is an enlargement of spinal cord central canal within or near the filum terminale. In many species, and possibly some humans, there is a functional communication between this dilated central canal and the subarachnoid space. In humans the terminal ventricle is visible in the foetus and children but is usually absent in adults. There is evidence suggesting that the cerebrospinal fluid in the central canal may facilitate non-synaptic neural transmission or clear waste products and particulate matter from the parenchyma (so called ‘sink’ function) (Storer et al. 1998).

  5. 5.

    Otitis media with effusion is often referred to as ‘glue ear’ and is characterised by thick or sticky fluid behind the eardrum in the middle ear but no ear infection. In the Cavalier King Charles spaniel, it is also sometimes referred to as primary secretary otitis media or PSOMs.

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Rusbridge, C. (2014). Veterinary Aspects. In: Flint, G., Rusbridge, C. (eds) Syringomyelia. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-13706-8_14

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