Cavalier Matters

Supporting Research, Rescue, and Reform

Syringomyelia Simplifed

An Overview of Syringomyelia (SM) and Chiari-like Malformation (CM)

CM is a condition characterised by a mismatch in size between the brain (too big) and the skull (too small). This condition is so painful it has been described as trying to shove a brain the size of a 10 foot into a size 6 shoe. At the base of the skull there is a hole which allows the brainstem to exit the skull and become the spinal cord. A scan will reveal the brain being squeezed like toothpaste down the spinal cord of the dog. Many dogs with CM go on to develop Syringomyelia (SM).

SM Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) is stored in a sack within the brain. CSF Fluid is important for protecting the nervous system. When the heart beats, the brain expands, pushing the fluid through the hole in the back of the skull down the spine. If the hole is obstructed this causes the CSF to be forced down the spine under pressure (like putting your thumb over a hose pipe). These pressures on the spinal cord lead to fluid accumulation which creates fluid filled cavities (syrinx), destroying the spinal cord.

Early treatment and diagnosis can help prevent the disease progressing.

There is no cure! A huge percentage of these beautiful Cavaliers are affected.