Canine Chiari Institute at Long Island Veterinary Specialists

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Pet Owner's Guide to Chiari
As owners, your concern for the possible presence, severity, duration and management of 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 chiari-like malformation (also known as COMS)?

Chiari-like Malformation (CLM), formerly known as Caudal Occipital Malformation Syndrome (COMS) is a condition in which the rearmost  part of the brain, the cerebellum, descends out of the skull through the opening at its base, called the foramen magnum, crowding the spinal cord.

Last Updated ( Friday, 22 October 2010 12:14 ) Read more...


Before the advent of MRI, the diagnosis of CLM and SM were commonly confused with that of disk disease, allergic skin disorders, epilepsy, and ear infections. Once Chiari malformation was reported in human patients, preliminary research provided the foundation to identify its analogue in the animal population.
Last Updated ( Friday, 22 October 2010 12:17 ) Read more...

Clinical Signs

The hallmarks of this disorder are pain and abnormal sensations like itchiness. We can usually tell if a dog is in pain with CLM/SM. An affected dog will often cry out and adopt a “nose down” position when his/her neck is hurting. Although neck pain is very common with this disorder, we have also seen a large number of dogs who exhibited back pain as well. Dogs with CLM/SM often appear to have increased sensitivity to being touched.


MR Imaging

There are a wide range of improvements in MRI technology since the first published MR image was presented in 1973. Many of the improvements, however, can be attributed to two aspects of MR imaging, increasing field strength and parallel imaging techniques. At The Canine Chiari Institute, we are equipped with the only 3 Tesla MRI in the world dedicated to veterinary imaging and recognize the benefits of better resolution, faster imaging requiring less anesthesia time, and CSF flow studies with each patient.


Does my dog need treatment?

The answer to this question is multifactorial. The age of dog tends to be a very important consideration in many instances. Young dogs with clinical signs should be considered for surgical treatment, while older dogs with minimal to no clinical signs could be managed medically or surgically.

Last Updated ( Friday, 22 October 2010 12:19 ) 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 being noted. 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 faster than those related to SM. The reduction in syrinx size is paramount to clinical recovery.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 21 October 2010 11:36 ) 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.

Common Terms

A medical glossary with detailed explanation of common terms used in the diagnosis and treatment of Canine Chiari - like malformation.
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 October 2010 11:13 ) 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 Chiari