Canine Chiari Institute at Long Island Veterinary Specialists

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Pet Owner's Guide to Syringomyelia
As owners, your concern for the possible presence, severity, duration and management of Syringomyelia by itself or associated with Chiari-Like Malformation will likely give rise to questions that we have endeavored to anticipate and answer in a helpful and instructive manner in the appropriate areas on this site. We encourage you to visit the topics explored in the menus under each subject.


What is syringomyelia (pronounced SIR-RIN-GO-MY-EE- LIA)?
Syringomyelia is a disease of the spinal cord characterized by fluid filled cavities (syrinxes) within the spinal cord substance (Fig 2a). Fluid is normally found in small quantities within the center of the spinal cord in a space called the central canal. 
Last Updated ( Friday, 22 October 2010 13:24 ) Read more...

After Treatment

What can I expect after surgery?
Cranioplasty with FMD appears to be well tolerated in dogs with CLM/SM with very few complications occurring; most dogs are hospitalized for 4-5 days depending on their clinical condition. Because cerebellar decompression is immediate, intracranial clinical signs can be expected to resolve rapidly. The reduction in syrinx size is paramount to clinical recovery.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 October 2010 13:42 ) Read more...

Clinical Signs

Since most patients with syringomyelia have CLM as the underlying causative disorder, it can be difficult to discern which clinical signs are due to the CLM and which are due to the syrinx. Hyperesthesia or pain along the spine is a hallmark clinical sign of syringomyelia.


Last Updated ( Friday, 22 October 2010 13:25 ) Read more...


As with Chiari Like Malformation, MR imaging is necessary to consistently diagnose syringomyelia which appears as fluid cavitations within the spinal cord. It has become customary to use MR to image the brain and cervical spinal cord in dogs suspected of having CLM and syringomyelia. Most dogs with CLM and syringomyelia have syrinx cavities throughout the thoracic and lumbar spinal cord, in addition to the cervical cord region and because of this, clinicians at the CCI prefer to have whole spine images in order to document all of the syrinx cavities in a patient.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 October 2010 13:34 ) Read more...

MR Imaging

MRI in animals is safe, however, general anesthesia is required to ensure that the patient remains motionless during the scan. At large veterinary MRI centers, patients are monitored for heart rate and rhythm, respiratory rate, body temperature, and blood pressure with specialized “MRI compatible” equipment.  Large magnet scanners (3 Tesla) can scan patients in 20 minutes while smaller magnets or older machines can have scan times exceeding 1 hour.
Last Updated ( Friday, 22 October 2010 13:29 ) Read more...


Since most documented syringomyelia cases are associated with CLM, the treatment of this disorder is as described under Chiari treatment. In general, the treatment of syringomyelia is aimed at restoring normal CSF flow patterns by addressing the underlying causative disorder.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 October 2010 13:15 ) Read more...


When was canine CLM/SM first discovered?
The first reports of syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS) appeared in 1997 almost simultaneously from the UK, South Africa and Australia. This coincided with the availability of spinal MRI for animals. However the disease was around before this time, but due to the lack of appropriate diagnostic tests, it was not recognized. The earliest known case with history and radiographs suggestive of syringomyelia, was presented to the Royal Veterinary College, UK in 1987.
Last Updated ( Monday, 18 October 2010 16:27 ) Read more...

Common Terms

A medical glossary with detailed explanation of common terms used in the diagnosis and treatment of Syringomyelia.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 October 2010 11:15 ) Read more...

A reference guide for veterinary professionals interested in Chiari -Like Malformation and Syringomyelia. 



You are here: Home Owner Center Owner's Guide to Syringomyelia