View Full Version : Diagnosing Syringomyelia

21st June 2007, 02:22 PM
I am currently doing biomedical research and recently became the owner of A beautiful B&T charlie.I have come across alot of cases of Syringomyelia (SM) in Ireland and I am very interested in incorporating this into my research.

My Research involves desinging sensors to listen to, or hear muscle contractions/vibrations.Current methods of analysing contracting muscle involve measuring the electrical pulse generated by motor units surrounding the muscle during contraction, using Electromyography (EMG).I am using Mechanomyography (MMG) becasue I am interested in what happens to muscle during electrical stimulation, and therefore EMG cannot be used.I have a very limited knowledge of the underlying physiology of SM and how it affects a dog.I would really appreciate if anyone could inform me on any of the following
1)How is SM diagnosed
2)How valuable would it be to detect it earlier than current methods allow

NB:I am interested in this from a research and personal point of view.I intend on evaluating my sensor by picking up SM signals/tremors and analysing this data and comparing it to non affected dogs.


21st June 2007, 03:01 PM

There is much information on Karlin's website www.smcavalier.com on this condition, I would suggest a trawl around there as a good starting point! I also had a sub forum running a couple of weeks back detailing my journey through MRI'ing 2 of my girls.

The only real way to diagnose SM at the moment is to MRI scan your dog, this will show if your dog is currently affected, but CANNOT show if your dog is carrying the genes that produce SM. E.G You can breed 2 Grade A or Unaffected dogs and get affected pups in the litter, by the same token you could breed 2 affected dogs together and get unaffected pups in the litter, although in all actuality you would most likely get clear and affected pups in the same litter. I hear of people who have littermates, one has MRI'd positive for SM whilst the other is classed as clear!!

As a breeder this is the hardest thing of all, knowing what to do, if we take out all the SM suspect lines AND the MVD suspect lines, we have nothing left to breed with! Suffice to say there is an awful amount of confusion amongst responsible breeders right now!!

Hope this is of help?

21st June 2007, 03:02 PM
Hi Chris:

When you say you are coming across a lot of SM in Ireland, do you mean in dogs/cavaliers? I wasn't aware there was a very high diagnosis level here because so few dogs are MRId; I'd be interested in finding out more.

You can get tons of info on all aspects of SM including a series of research papers presented in London last November, here on my SM website: www.smcavalier.com. Also see: http://www.livs.org/livsnews.htm

To date the only accurate method of diagnosis is MRI of head and spine. There is a team at LIVS in the US looking at other ways of diagnosing. Thermography is perhaps the most promising, or a mix of techniques less involved than MRI, but they feel this is likely many years off still (ultrasound is mentioned as is BAER testing but the latter two have limitations and uncertain correspondence to CM/SM). Offhand, I don't know if a muscular approach would be relevant as a lot of dogs -- probably most as far as I know --do not show symptoms that are reflected in muscular movement and actually, don't show symptoms at all that can be spotted in neurological exams -- this isn't used in human diagnosis at any rate which has a much longer history of research. It might be worth asking this of Dr Marino at www.LIVS.org.

It would also be a good idea to get hold of Clare Rusbridge's doctoral thesis on SM, recently published. This is probably the most comprehensive piece of current research available. This can be purchased from Penny Knowler in the UK, penny.knowler@ntlworld.com. I am sure Penny would also be willing to talk to you about your research proposal from a far more informed perspective than me! She is the researcher who works with Clare.

26th June 2007, 05:29 PM
Thanks alot for your quick and extremely informative responses.In the meantime I have had a chance to do some basic research into SM and how it is diagnosed.My intrerest is not in the actual muscle response but in motor neuron responses to electrically induced reflexes.I felt that if a growth had formed on or near electrical pathways in a dog,that time delays would manifest in reflex test readings over a short amount of time (6 weeks).

Obviously this theory is just in the early stages (my background is in electronics,so dog physiology isnt my forte) and Im assuming dogs have a similar reflex system to us humans,but I will keep you posted on my progress.Thanks again.

26th June 2007, 06:42 PM
Definitely email Dr Marino and Penny Knowler as I am sure they'd be interested in your ideas and could offer some perspective on where to take it next, and if it would be likely to be productive. Good luck and let us now what happens! I'd be very interested in any info you have on SM in Ireland though; PM me if you'd like. :)