View Full Version : Thoughts on MRI'ing?

14th March 2012, 09:18 PM
I just recently found out another member of my meet-up group has had another of her dogs diagnosed with SM. This makes at least 5 that I know of out of more than 50 dogs, chances are that there are more undiagnosed. From what I've seen of him (about 2 years-old) there didn't appear to be any obvious signs. Of course I'm seeing him once a month for about an hour, so it's not like I'm getting the full picture. He seems very playful, friendly, and doesn't have a sad/pained look on his face. His owner is/was trying to organize a low-cost MRI clinic here for us, if enough people would go.

My question is, if we aren't able to organize one (or even if we are) do you think it's a good idea to get my almost 2 year-old JB scanned? He really doesn't have any noticeable SM signs, he scratches at his ears regularly, but we've been battling a near constant infection that produces a brown yeast-like gunk, and during good phase of the ear infections he seems to almost stop his scratching. He does like rubbing his face against you, but otherwise he is happy and playful.

Would it be worth it to scan him for peace of mind? I realize even if he is clear now it wouldn't mean he couldn't develop it by even 6-months out... I do have pet insurance so the cost would be negligible for me.

Thanks for all your thoughts and advice.

Karen and Ruby
14th March 2012, 09:27 PM
Personally, after having 2 symptomatic Cavaliers I will scan ever Cavalier I have in the future. Not planning on having another but if a rescue comes up I would think about it.

But yes for my peace of mind I would 100% scan xx

14th March 2012, 10:21 PM
I'm not sure if insurance covers scans that are just for peace of mind. If the vet were to refer you because of symptoms I think it is different.
I only know this because Oliver's sister has been diagnosed with juvenile cataracts and I wanted to have him scanned. I have what I thought was good insurance and they said they would only pay for the scan if he did have cataracts and not if he was clear as there was no reason to scan him other than my peace of mind. :S
I'm a new dog owner so I am assuming some of the others on here can advise about this.

I am still planning on having him tested but I will have to pay for it.
So I am hoping to go to one of the days arranged by the companion cavalier club later in the year.

Karen and Ruby
14th March 2012, 10:24 PM
Yes if he came back clear they may not pay out. However seeing as CM alone can cause symptoms alone and all Cavaliers have CM you could argue that quite easily x

14th March 2012, 10:32 PM
I'm not sure if insurance covers scans that are just for peace of mind. If the vet were to refer you because of symptoms I think it is different.

No they wouldn't. You would need to have a referral from a vet based on symptoms. Few vets would risk their professional reputation or prosecution on a falsified referral. And a personal prosecution by an insurance company can be very costly and could go down as a fraud conviction on your own record.

If you want to scan, I think you will need, for your own ethical peace of mind :), to pay for it. That said -- I would not MRI an asymptomatic cavalier except specifically for research. It does involve general anaesthesia and you have at his age, 70% chance of him being clear -- and 70% chance of him having SM by the time he is over 6-7. That's pretty short term peace of mind.

But on the other hand you would get a sense of overall health. If you have a pedigree it might be useful to researchers to have the scan. It;s a personal and pocketbook decision. I scanned all of mine for research and also for information purposes (for the rescues with no background info of use for researchers -- one I was sure had SM though only mildly symptomatic, and she did)

I do know of cavaliers who scanned clear and then had severe syrinxes within a year or so of the scan. That's why I'd wait for visible signs to indicate there's something you actually want to address to help the individual dog. :) In the US even the low cost clinics are quite costly to scan for no good reason -- probably 3-4 times what someone in the UK would pay. If you are concerned, I would go for a clinical exam with the neurologist first to see if s/he thinks a scan is warranted.

Kate H
14th March 2012, 10:52 PM
I'm taking Aled for a scan in May, but it's only a mini-scan (head and shoulders) under sedation, not anaesthetic. He was scanned in a similar way when he was 2 - simply because I was taking Oliver for his second mini-scan and thought we might as well have a look at Aled as well. And no, I'm not a millionaire! I belong to the Midland Cavalier Club and sneak into their breeders' scanning days, which then (3 years ago) cost 150. At that stage he was (unsurprisingly) free of SM but had mild CM and mildly dilated ventricles. His next scan is simply a check-up, to see whether he's still free of SM - which a mini-scan will tell me, even if (if he does have SM) it won't necessarily tell us the extent of the problem. He so far doesn't seem to have any symptoms, but I'd just like to check out if I'm dealing with one dog with the disease or two! Cost has gone up to 200, which is about average for mini-scans.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

14th March 2012, 10:57 PM
Thanks Karlin, that also answers some questions I had as far as payments. I thought that I would need a vet referral for the scan to be covered on insurance, and without it I can't cover the cost.
Especially since I know there would be no guarantee that he wouldn't develop syrinxes within a year or less, so the peace of mind would be only temporary.

I think it's important to be concerned, and aware of the possibilities and keep a watch for serious signs and worries, but not let them ruin the happy fun times we have now either.

I'm also in discussion with the same meet-up member who had her 2nd dog diagnosed to see what she thinks about getting either a neurologist and/or cardiologist to come out and give a informative talk about these diseases. I think as SM and clearly MVD are prevalent at rate in the US similar to the UK, but they are not diagnosed as often, as there is a lack of information in both the owners and local vets. So if we could help inform more people they might recognize the symptoms in their dogs and get them the help they need.

I don't know if it would be possible to get these specialist to come and talk to a group of owners, or if I could go and speak with them, collect enough information from here and other SM resources to give a small talk myself (I do have a very strong background in science, a PhD in Microbiology). Then maybe I would be able to help, if even a small amount.

Of course I don't want to sound all knowing about any of this or cause any others unnecessary distress as they might begin to obsessively worry that their dogs have signs of these diseases. But I mainly just want to spread the information and help these dogs as much as I can.

15th March 2012, 12:08 AM
Seems like forever ago about 2 years ago, I got Ella's neurologist to come talk to our cavalier meet up group about CM and SM. He brought his cards and also the cardiologist who worked at same place.

I think its a great idea. I lived in Charlotte NC and we had an ok turn out. He has since moved but I would do it again in a heartbeat. He did it for free.

Kate H
15th March 2012, 11:00 AM
Sounds a great idea. The Midland Club organised a talk on SM by a neurologist/researcher, and then organised a mini-scanning day at his hospital and that was when Oliver's SM got picked up. I knew very little about SM before that talk, except that it was in Oliver's family.

Kate, Oliver and Aled