Canine Syringomyelia in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel

Canine Syringomyelia in King Charles Spaniel


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“Your picture has been a stunningly beautiful and very useful addition to my consulting room. Normally when trying to explain Chiari malformation and syringomyelia I try to draw on a white board. However because the anatomy is so complex, it is difficult for my clients to visualise what is happening in their dogs. Your picture clearly and accurately depicts what I am trying to say and presents it in a real and non-threatening way for them. Thank you so much!”

– Dr. Clare Rusbridge


Veterinary anatomical illustration of a neurological disorder called canine syringomyelia in a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. Cavalier King Charles Spaniels seem to be particularly prone to this disorder, which is caused by a lack of sufficient space in the skull that contains the cerebellum. This anatomical anomaly causes varying degrees of changes within the structure of the brain and spinal cord, which are only detectable by MRI. The symptoms of this disease are also widely ranging from mild, such as neck scratching, to severe pain and limb weakness.

The important features to note in this illustration are:

  • Loss of the normal round shape of the cerebellum, caused by a misshaped occipital bone.
  • Displacement of the cerebellum into and through the foramen magnum, causing compression of the brain stem and spinal cord.
  • Kinking of the medulla, caused by the cerebellum herniation and misshapen foramen magnum.
  • Formation of syrinx within the spinal cord, caused by a back-up of CSF within the spinal canal.
  • Dilation of the ventricles within the cerebrum, caused by a back-up of CSF within the brain.

Key Elements of image:

A. Ventricular dilation

B. Cerebellum

C. Supraoccipital bone

D. Basioccipital bone

E. Medulla

F. Syrinx

G. C1 Vertebra

H. C2 Vertebra

I. C3 Vertebra

J. C4 Vertebra