View Full Version : Surgical treatment for SM - any thoughts?

4th August 2006, 11:55 AM
I have a question that maybe someone here can help me with. I have been reading some about sm and understand that it is basically a boney malformation of the occipictal bone. Is this correct and it makes the skull to small so fluid builds and starts to cause problems. Well has anyone ever heard of any surgical treatments for this? As in babies that have a stenosis of the skull - where their skulls fuse too early and makes their skulls too small for their growing brains they now go in and break the bone plates up and allow them to have room to grow more normally. Well why couldn't they do something even if it was just to create a hole or something to relieve the pressure?

I may be way off base - I know just enough about some medical stuff to make myself crazy - but I was just curious. And I know that vet schools especially are trying new things and experimental stuff. I know the cost would be outrageous but am also sure their would be many who wouldn't think twice if it meant the end of suffering for their baby. And this may have been already asked or really isn't an option but I thought I would see if anyone had any thoughts.

4th August 2006, 12:17 PM
I think if you are serious about learning about SM then please read all information given from informed sources, not 2nd hand, not from wrongly informed or chance talk but the facts. So many times I have heard it that things are added on and taken away, from this person said this and that person said that etc, etc...good sites are out there...use them...



updated and a good site, look under health and follow SM...



another fantastic cavalier health site. covers tons of valuable cavalier information on health...

The surgery is still quite new, there still isn't data enough to give good/bad/success rates....it's in it's infancy really. It's a personal choice...and depends on many factors, not all SM cavaliers are suitable and many manage fine on medication alone. Perhaps you might find it interesting to find an informed cavalier regional club near you if you wish to talk in more depth about the condition? if you show an interest I'm sure others will be willing to help with information.

hope some of this helps?

Alison, wilts, U.K.

4th August 2006, 03:16 PM
And also http://sm.cavaliertalk.com :)

The cause is a bit more complicated and not entirely understood and there is decompression surgery to correct the problem, but it isn't a cure and is very invasive. In about a fourth to a third of cases there's a relapse as well.

There are some stats available on success rates but not much is known beyond about 5 years out from surgery and not enough numbers have had it done for a long term prognosis.

Neurologist Clare Rusbridge is working on a paper at the moment comparing outcomes of 30 cavaliers she has treated either with surgery or medical treatment.

4th August 2006, 03:39 PM
Sorry Karlin...I forgot that one :sl*p:

Now I do feel awful! :flwr:

Alison, wilts, U.K.

4th August 2006, 05:48 PM
Not at all! :lol:

5th August 2006, 01:09 AM
Thank you both! I knew it must be more complicated than the question itself but I just wondered if it was an option being explored in depth! I will definitely take the time to research this and thanks for the link!

I was also reading a topic where they were discussing the pro's of asking breeders if the parent's (inaddition to all the other essential tests) were scanned for sm before breeding. Is the scan a conclusive - meaning if they are completely normal they won't develop it?

I am sure I will find the answer when I visit the link.

Thank you both again for replying! I am just trying to understand all that I need to watch for when choosing a breeder and a puppy!! :D

5th August 2006, 01:55 AM
Research studies so far have shown consistently that almost NO cavaliers are free of both SM and the skull malformation. Around 90% consistently show up with the malformation and about 30-50% already have syrinxes as well, so there is by any measure, a very high degree of SM in the breed, even allowing for an enormous margin for error. Fortunately few dogs seem to have a severe enough case that they show outward symptoms.

The reason it helps to scan the parents is to enable breeders to breed dogs with minimal signs of these two conditions on MRI, as outward symptoms are not an adequate indicator of the status of the dog (just as breeding dogs need a proper cardiac test for murmurs). Dogs are then graded according to a suggested approach created by Clare Rusbridge, a London vbased neurologist. The breeding guidelines are suggestions based on existing knowledge, but follow the same idea as the MVD protocols -- that if you choose parents that do not already have murmurs, you increase the likelihood that that any murmurs will appear later rather than sooner in the puppies (about 50% of cavaliers have a murmur by age 5 so MVD is very prevalent in the breed as well). It may be impossible to eradicate SM but it should be possible to minimise it.

There's more on this here:


See also:


and http://sm.cavaliertalk.com/smnews2006.html

6th August 2006, 12:39 AM
:D Thank you so much for the information! This all just goes to prove that the breediing of these beautiful dogs has got to be very carefully! And with more of these tests done - like you said - it can minimize the rates that they are present!

I had read about the fact that about 50% have mumurs by age five - there are so many things to consider and watch for with this breed. I am so glad I found this site to learn from before we get our puppy! I feel for the people who don't do the research and just call an ad from a newspaper and don't have any idea what they are getting into!