Understanding Canine Chiari Malformation and Syringomyelia
A Chiari Malformation (CM) occurs at the craniocervical junction. This is where the skull and the top of the spine meet. At the bottom of the skull, there is a large hole called the foramen magnum. The foramen magnum allows the brainstem to exit the skull and become the spinal cord.
When the lower lobe of the brain, the cerebellum, is displaced to the level of the foramen magnum (mild CM) or through the foramen magnum (severe CM) there is overcrowding in the foramen magnum. This causes obstruction of the normal flow of CSF from the brain down to the spinal cord. Many dogs with CM develop syringomyelia (SM). Syringomyelia is a condition where cavities, or holes, called a syrinx, develop within the spinal cord.