Clare Rusbridge, Colin Driver, HA Volk, Imelda M McGonnell, Thomas A. Shaw
Previous research in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels (CKCS) has found that Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia (CM/SM) are associated with a volume mismatch between the caudal cranial fossa (CCF) and the brain parenchyma contained within. The objectives of this study were to i) compare cerebellar volume in CKCS (a “high risk’ group which frequently develops CM/SM), small breed dogs (medium risk – occasionally develop CM/SM), and Labradors (low risk – CM/SM not reported); ii) evaluate a possible association between increased cerebellar volume and CM/SM in CKCS; iii) investigate the relationship between increased cerebellar volume and crowding of the cerebellum in the caudal part of the CCF (i.e. the region of the foramen magnum). Volumes of three-dimensional, magnetic resonance imaging derived models of the CCF and cerebellum were obtained from 75 CKCS, 44 small breed dogs, and 31 Labradors. As SM is thought to be a late onset disease process, two subgroups were formed for comparison: 18 CKCS younger than 2 years with SM (CM/SM group) and 13 CKCS older than 5 years without SM (CM group). Relative cerebellar volume was defined as the volume of the cerebellum divided by the total volume of brain parenchyma. Our results show that the CKCS has a relatively larger cerebellum than small breed dogs and Labradors and provide evidence that increased cerebellar volume in CKCS is associated with crowding of cerebellum in the caudal part of the CCF. In CKCS there is an association between increased cerebellar volume and SM. These findings have implications for the understanding of the pathological mechanisms of CM/SM, and support the hypothesis that it is a multifactorial disease process governed by increased cerebellar volume and failure of the CCF to reach a commensurate size.