Many here will know there was an extensive research study on cerebral spinal flud flow in cavaliers, related to syringomyelia and the skull malformation, conducted at the University of North Carolina late last summer and early autumn. Some of our cavaliers even participated!
Blockage of CSF flow is understood to be one of the major components of SM and major causes of symptoms and further deterioration in dogs with SM or the malformation. But there's indications from human studies that the flow is not consistent among affected patients -- surgery can be more successful for example if the direction of flow and blockage is better understood. Also, researchers need to understand CSF flow in general much better to learn more about SM.
The results of this study are not yet published but are to be presented in two papers on June 1st at the annual major vet conference in the US. The abstracts (summary) of the talks should be circulated soon and when they are available I will post them here. Also I hope to have some notes taken from the presentations so we might get a bit of additional detail.
Early indications from participants in the study, who spoke to researchers, are that the results on percentages affected of asymptomatic cavaliers are roughly in line with what UK researcher, Dr Clare Rusbridge has seen -- eg most dogs have the malformation and that great numbers percentage-wise also have SM.
This will be the first of the better-funded studies to emerge on cavaliers with this condition. Dr Rusbridge's work has generally been on a shoestring though the CKCS genome scan in Canada now underway in conjunction with her research will be a major project and we all hope, will bring much greater insight into this condition for both dogs and humans. SM is very poorly understood in human populations, too.