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Thread: MRI shows SM but no symptoms. hypothetical question regarding treatment

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    Default MRI shows SM but no symptoms. hypothetical question regarding treatment

    This question has been bothering me lately. Ella's neurologist is not a researcher or anyone well known, but he did speak a year ago to some people in Charlotte about CM/SM. He used a lot of Dr. Rusbridge's information but he said something that hit me more than numbers. He said (which is a number debated) it could be said around 50% of Cavaliers have SM. He looked around and said half of those here because many do not show symptoms which is why breeding.... I don't want to get into all that.

    He said that the majority of the time he sees SM is from an MRI on a completely unrelated issue. The dog may not have symptoms but the MRI shows they have SM. When I interviewed Dr. Marino, I asked the question on what would you say to someone who has a dog that does not have symptoms but is diagnosed with SM. Of course he went into the surgery side. but I thought he would say something to not worry people. In breeding its one thing but as a pet owner, why would you want to know or have an MRI IF it was not for research and there were no symptoms?

    • A couple people mentioned having an MRI done and I wondered about it.
    • I feel surgery based on an MRI is way aggressive and even wonder about medication for asymptomatic cavaliers (long term effects etc)
    Some may say go ahead with a CSF reducer but I don't know. I don't think I would want to know or maybe I would. I just want to know thoughts.
    Anne Proud mother of Elton 5 and Angel Ella

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    If it wasnt for the post frontline issue last year i wouldve never known about her sm.. Id still not know... Would it have made a difference? I dont know.. Im still unconvinced thr gabapentin does anything. She is a sensitiven girl but a happy one. Id personally feel uncomffortable about surgery still as well as prednisone. I think neuros treat agressively.
    Mom of Blondie aka The Monster, my furry daughter and loyal friend!!!!!!!!

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    Oliver did have an MRI done, but not for SM symptoms. He had one done because he was symptompatic for disc issues and the MRI was the best way to determine the extent of his disc deterioration. So, in a way, I guess you could say that he had an MRI for symptoms, just not SM symptoms. Luckily, the MRI showed no SM and he was already 9 years old when he had the MRI.

    Three of my dogs have had MRIs - Riley was obvious (SM Symptoms) Oliver as stated above, and Oz had one because I wasn't sure if he had EFS or SM (the MRI showed CM, no syryinx). Maddie shows no symptoms of SM at all so it would be hard to justify the cost. She had a collapsing episode about two weeks ago and I thought they might MRI her, but they think it might have more to do with her heart. They heard a slight click in her heart, but that's it - and it hasn't happened again.

    Even knowing what I know now, I think I'd rather live in bliss until my dog showed symptoms (since I'm not going to breed). At least I know what to be on the lookout for now.
    Bev
    Oliver (blenheim, born 3/2001), Riley (black & tan, born 8/2002,), Madison (ruby, born 9/2003), and Oz (tri-color, born 7/2007)

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    Oliver had his first MRI at the age of 6 because his father had produced a daughter from a different bitch with symptomatic SM, and his grandfather and great-grandfather had both had symptomatic SM, and I wanted to know what was happening - and yes, he has mild SM. At that time, nobody would have said that he had symptoms - but that doesn't mean that he didn't have symptoms, simply that no-one had picked them up. With hindsight, he had symptoms from the day I had him at a year old - he was mildly light phobic (which is now the main symptom of his CM) and he was a very restless sleeper, moving from bed to floor to armchair and back, so probably uncomfortable and possibly already having headaches.

    There was a thread a few months ago reporting that a researcher had examined quite a large number of dogs with SM whose owners said they had no symptoms, and he found that 70% of the dogs actually had symptoms of SM (or CM). The problem is that SM symptoms cover a huge spectrum and can vary greatly from dog to dog. It takes an experienced vet to put a disparate collection of clues together and come up with the answer of SM. Oliver seems to have very few - if any - problems from his small syrinx; his headaches come from his dilated ventricles, which are caused by his CM.

    When I say that Oliver gets headaches, most people's reaction is 'How on earth do you know a dog has got a headache?' - so they may well be missing the signs in their own dogs. I read an article recently by a woman with SM who had had decompression surgery, who said that one of her worst symptoms was tinnitus in her ears, as the level of fluid in her ventricles moved - she called it 'sloshing around' (I think we tend to look at an MRI and visualise dilated ventricles as absolutely full of fluid, but of course they can't be - the fluid is moving through the brain, even if far too slowly). I think Oliver may well have that - but we have no way of knowing. Three years ago I would have confidently said that Oliver was asymptomatic (and he still may be for SM, but not for CM) - now I wonder if there is any such thing, or whether we just can't know exactly what our dogs are experiencing

    The basic Cavalier problem is Chiari Malformation and the uneven growth of skull and brain; both a syrinx and dilated ventricles are symptoms of that, each producing their own particular difficulties.

    Kate, Oliver and Aled

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    I agree with what you said about oliver. The disc is what he said mostly is what people get MRIs for and find out SM also. Age definately is something to factor in.

    Kate, I know what you are talking about with the eyes. I could tell a lot by ellas eyes. When she had surgery it was like the pain vanished from them. Even with CM and no SM if they are symptomatic (those that can recognize things) is different. I think that study about ones actually being symptomatic was from same interview. Symptoms can vary so much.

    Thanks for your input.

    Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk
    Anne Proud mother of Elton 5 and Angel Ella

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    Quote Originally Posted by anniemac View Post
    He said that the majority of the time he sees SM is from an MRI on a completely unrelated issue. The dog may not have symptoms but the MRI shows they have SM. When I interviewed Dr. Marino, I asked the question on what would you say to someone who has a dog that does not have symptoms but is diagnosed with SM. Of course he went into the surgery side. but I thought he would say something to not worry people. In breeding its one thing but as a pet owner, why would you want to know or have an MRI IF it was not for research and there were no symptoms?

    • A couple people mentioned having an MRI done and I wondered about it.
    • I feel surgery based on an MRI is way aggressive and even wonder about medication for asymptomatic cavaliers (long term effects etc)
    Some may say go ahead with a CSF reducer but I don't know. I don't think I would want to know or maybe I would. I just want to know thoughts.
    I took Matthew and Tommy for scans when the first low cost breeders' schemes started in the UK. They had both been used at stud.

    Tommy was a wimpy dog who very occasionally gave a yip for no reason but I really did not expect him to have a problem. I was convinced my sturdy Matthew was fine. ( It was only later that I realised that he had for years deftly avoided having the top of his head touched )

    They both had a small syrinx in the same place.

    My vet agreed I could give them a small dose of frusemide daily as a preventative. Who knows whether it helped or not?

    For both of them symptoms came on slowly over the years, Matthew deteriorated more rapidly than Tommy and was PTS last year.

    The scans were done in 2005, medication has controlled Tommy's symptoms fairly well for six years, although he is now on two gabapentin X 3 daily, metacam, & he still has the frusemide.

    He is ten and a half but now appears older. He has a shambling gait, twisted neck, an inability to know where he places his weak quivering back legs so occasionally he falls sideways.

    He always gets up wagging his tail & it breaks my heart.

    He has started lying down suddenly with his head stretched between his paws, hard to explain but unmistakable when you see it. It is usually after his walk or excitement.
    Matthew did it a lot, I think of it as the headache pose.

    Despite all this I believe Tommy still has a reasonable quality of life. How do I know? Because what he does is paw continuously for attention if he was uncomfortable and at the moment my legs are not getting battered.

    I have nobody to blame for Tommy's condition but myself. I bred him, but it was before I knew about SM or that his grandfather and father had it.

    Tommy was from a half uncle to half niece mating , one of the classic breedings that was thought to double up on all the good genes that are in a breeding line. It seems so stupid now but none of us thought of the possibility that we may be doubling up on bad genes too.

    I am not saying that all line bred puppies are bound to have inherited nasty genes, I am just saying that line breeding is the reason that inherited diseases become firmly established in breeds.
    Margaret C

    Cavaliers......Faith, The Ginger Tank and Woody.
    Japanese Chins.... Dandy, Benny, Bridgette and Hana.
    Remembered with love......... Tommy Tuppence and Fonzi

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    He has started lying down suddenly with his head stretched between his paws, hard to explain but unmistakable when you see it
    Like this? Daisy has slept like this for quite a while now.



    I'm not at all convinced that going down the surgical route would make any appreciable difference to her quality if life (which is so so).Although she can go through some very normal phases.
    It's such an invasive surgery with a lengthy recovery period and unless there is a sound reason for intervening, I feel medication is the route that best suits our particular circumstances.
    It would at best perhaps buy her some time,but I'd rather let her go, than subject her to surgery when she's deteriorated so far in such a short time.
    As for asymptomatic cavaliers being recommended to undergo surgery,I would think absolutely not!
    Just because you can have surgery doesn't mean you should ? Especially when the surgical outcome is uncertain.
    Sins

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    I agree with what you say Sins. As always you are talking a lot of sense. From what I have heard from friends whose Cavaliers have had the surgery, it is a truly awful operation with a protracted recovery period which seldom produces sustainable improvement.

    Getting back to the discussion's roots, I had Rebel's scan done in 2009 to benefit research on clear over six Cavaliers. I paid the going rate for this. It turned out that he has SM, CM and curvature of the spine. Fortunately I kept the pictures because he recently became symptomatic for SM, his pictures providing valuable to my vet who knows nothing about the disease.

    Somebody mentioned radical (I think that's the word) treatment being carried out by neurologists. When Rebel got sick I contacted Chester Gates for advice, but was told none could be given without him being seen there. This was not practical as I have no transport. I could access the area by train, but when I enquired about a taxi from the railway station I was told that none of the regular operators will carry dogs. End of.

    I printed out Clare Rusbridge's treatment matrix for my vet, which she found invaluable, as Clare would not be able to advise because Rebel was diagnosed at Chester Gates.

    The young lady vet is proving a winner in my eyes, being open and honest about the skills she has and those she has yet to acquire. Step 1 applicable to Rebel on the matrix was Frusemide, which has worked beautifully on low doseage. He even has some of his hearing back and the compulsive licking is only present on one of his few bad days.

    Little Joe was first MRId because of epilepsy. The neurologist wanted to make sure there had been no congenital or traumatic brain injury causing the fits, which there was not - the bonus finding was that there were no signs of SM or CM, but of course he was only a puppy.

    A couple of months ago I wanted to plan for the future, so paid the full cost of scans for Little Joe and Winston Alexander at Woodlands, which were sent on to Clare Rusbridge for interpretation. Both came back A's which means I do not need to make financial provision for costly SM treatment in the future. They are aged 5 and almost 4, so it is thought unlikely for anything to develop, particularly knowing that the Celxo lines they are bred from are clear and long lived. Of course, the information is useful to their breeder and she was delighted to hear my news.
    Warmest wishes
    Flo & the ByFloSin Cavaliers
    Winston Alexander,Little Joe & Holly Poppet
    Birmingham, UK

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    With the responses, does it not seem that many of our Cavs have symptoms, yet ever so slight that we ignore or miss them entirely? It's hard with the history of this breed not to read into every little scratch, or head rub.

    When it finally gets noticed as something amiss, is it to a point where Meds would have helped earlier, since it's progressive in nature?
    Cindy and Claire
    Claire was born on Feb7, 2010

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    Quote Originally Posted by mommytoClaire View Post
    With the responses, does it not seem that many of our Cavs have symptoms, yet ever so slight that we ignore or miss them entirely? It's hard with the history of this breed not to read into every little scratch, or head rub.

    When it finally gets noticed as something amiss, is it to a point where Meds would have helped earlier, since it's progressive in nature?
    I'm sure since you are on the forum you are well aware of the symptoms. It doesn't hurt to learn about all health conditions not just SM. I would hate for people miss the experience of owning a cavalier for fear of developing SM. Sins said once that she made a
    pact to not enjoy her puppy and what will be will.

    I don't think there currently is a medication to help with progression. I did hear research is being done. Someone correct me. In terms of noticing earlier, I feel in terms of pain management and surgery is said more successful earlier. If no obvious symptoms, then enjoy. My feelings on it.

    Flo, I think what you said about knowing from MRI and once symptoms developed being able to treat it is sort of how I feel. However, I would rather not know until symptoms develop then treat. Just my thoughts.

    Sent from my Droid using Tapatalk
    Anne Proud mother of Elton 5 and Angel Ella

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