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Caudal cranial fossa partitioning in Cavalier King Charles spaniels
  1. T. A. Shaw, BVetMed, MRCVS1,
  2. I. M. McGonnell, PhD2,
  3. C. J. Driver, BSc, BVetMed (Hons), MVetMed, DipECVN, MRCVS1,
  4. C. Rusbridge, BVMS, PhD, DipECVN, MRCVS3 and
  5. H. A. Volk, PhD, DipECVN, PGCAP, FHEA, MRCVS1
  1. 1Department of Veterinary Clinical Sciences, Royal Veterinary College, Hatfield AL9 7TA, UK
  2. 2Department of Veterinary Basic Sciences, The Royal Veterinary College, Royal College Street, London, UK
  3. 3Goddard Veterinary Group, Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital, London, UK
  1. Email for correspondence: hvolk{at}

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Cavalier King Charles spaniels (CKCS) are notable among dog breeds for their high rate of Chiari-like malformation (CM-characterised by indentation of the cerebellum by the supraoccipital bone and/or herniation of a part of the cerebellum through the foramen magnum (Cappello and Rusbridge 2007)) and syringomyelia (SM-fluid-filled cavities within the spinal cord (syringes) (Rusbridge and others 2000, Lu and others 2003). The cause of this painful and heritable disease complex (Rusbridge and Knowler 2004, Lewis and others 2010) has been attributed to a volume mismatch between the caudal cranial fossa (CCF) and brain parenchyma contained within, mediated by crowding of hindbrain parenchyma and disturbance to cerebrospinal fluid flow dynamics in the caudal occipital region of the skull (Levine 2004, Rusbridge and others 2006). Although the occipital bones of CKCS appear to be malformed (Dewey and others 2004, Rusbridge and Knowler 2006, Carrera and others 2009), previous studies that investigated a possible association between reduced CCF volume and CM/SM yielded inconsistent results (Couturier and others 2008, Carrera and others 2009, Carruthers and others 2009, Cerda-Gonzalez and others 2009, Schmidt and others 2009, Driver and others 2010a, b). Furthermore, when CKCS were compared with other small breed dogs (SB), the CCF was appropriate in size but contained parenchyma that was disproportionately large (Cross and others 2009), suggesting that the aetiology of CM/SM in CKCS may be related to increased growth of the hindbrain. The authors of this communication recently reported that CKCS have a relatively larger cerebellum than SB and labradors (LD), and also found that in CKCS there is an association between the development of SM and increased cerebellar volume (Shaw and others 2012). However, this study also showed that increased cerebellar volume was associated with increased crowding in the caudal …

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