Prevalence of Chiari-like Malformations in Clinically Unaffected Dogs

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Abstract

Background:

The importance of Chiari-like malformation (CM) in the generation of clinical signs or the formation of syringomyelia in dogs is incompletely understood, partly because the prevalence of various CM definitions in unaffected dogs is unknown.

Hypothesis/Objectives:

The aims were: to estimate the prevalence of CM in dogs asymptomatic for CM or syringomyelia, according to 3 currently used definitions; and, to investigate the effect of brachycephaly and head position during magnetic resonance (MR) imaging on estimates of the prevalence of CM.

Animals:

One ninety-nine client-owned dogs without apparent signs of CM or syringomyelia.

Methods:

Blinded, retrospective analysis. Archived MR images were analyzed for evidence of cerebellar indentation and impaction into or herniation through the foramen magnum. Logistic regression analysis was used to investigate the relationship of CM diagnosis with head position and the cranial index (a measure of brachycephaly).

Results:

In 185 non-Cavalier King Charles Spaniel (CKCS) dogs, indentation was identified in 44% (95% CI, 47–51%) and impaction in 22% (95% CI, 16–28%). No asymptomatic, non-CKCS dogs showed herniation. Regression analysis showed a significant increase in the odds of indentation and impaction in an extended head position and as the cranial index increased (became more brachycephalic).

Conclusions and Clinical Importance:

The high prevalence of cerebellar indentation and impaction suggests that they may be normal anatomical variations and therefore unsuitable as definitions of CM. We suggest that future research into CM in dogs should define cases and controls more strictly so that overlap between normal and abnormal animals is minimized.

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