(SM) The Disease

Syringomyelia (SM) pronounced as Sear-ing-go-my-eelya is a disease where there is a mismatch between the size of the skull and the brain, the back half of the skull being too small for the whole brain. Like slamming your size 9 foot into a size 5 shoe. The brain bulges out of the Foramen Magna (the hole in the back of the skull) and this deformity is known as a Chiari like Malformation (CM). This results in partially blocking the flow of cerebrospinal fluid down the spinal cord. The brain is not able to send the proper signals for movement and causes pain as the spinal cord is damaged from the fluid.  There are specialists familiar with this disease, but to confirm the actual diagnosis an MRI must be performed. Treatment options depend on the extent of the damage and severity of symptoms. This disease is commonly known in the Cavalier breed.

 

Symptoms:
It is important to note that some dogs have the disease but show NO symptoms, others show neck and/or back pain, scoliosis (bending of the spine), neck scratching, sudden yelping for no reason, clumsiness, air licking, personality change, a drunken gait or slow paralysis of any or all limbs and tail.

 

TROOPER PARALYZED PRIOR TO SURGERY

 

Treatment:
Oral medications such as cortisteroids, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drugs, anticonvulsants and oral opiates can all be used to ease some of the symptoms. In severe cases a surgical procedure is performed where the portion of the skull is removed and replaced with a titanium mesh cage; this procedure is called a cranioplasty decompresses of the foramen magnum.

 

TROOPER'S HEAD WITH 27 STAPLES AFTER SURGERY

 

Trooper had this procedure and it increased his life by 28 months. Click here to see Trooper’s Story

 

In severe cases the spinal cord is destroyed eventually paralyzing the dog, resulting in death.


Affenpinschers do NOT always show the classic Cavalier symptoms of shoulder/neck scratching and yelping in pain (which they commonly call the Neck Scratcher Disease).

 

This disease is not only in the Affenpinscher and the Cavalier. Several experts believe the disease is also prevalent in other small breeds and is merely misdiagnosed.  The list of breeds diagnosed with SM include the Bichon Frise, Boston Terriers, Bulldogs, Cavaliers, Chihuahuas, French Bulldogs, Griffon Bruxellois, Havanese, King Charles Spaniel, Miniature Dachshunds, Maltese, Miniature Pinscher, Miniature and Toy Poodles, Papillons, Pekingese, Pomeranians, Pug, Shih Tzus, Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Yorkshire Terriers and several crossbreeds from these breeds.

 

There is extensive information regarding this disease on the internet. Click on http://www.veterinary-neurologist.co.uk/page30/OR http://www.cavalierhealth.org/syringomyelia.htm OR do your own internet search.

 

There are some responsible breeders and veterinarians on the forefront of this disease, such as Jessica Gruninger of the UK and Robyn Walker who has tested affenpinschers with the disease.  Click here to see more about Jessica Gruninger and Robyn Walker.

 

If you think your dog may have SM; DO REASERCH, FIND A SPECIALIST IN YOUR AREA, AND GET TREATMENT AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.

 

To donate to testing and research of SM click her for donating information.