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F38 Vestibular signs, autonomic dysfunction and dysphagia might occur in adult dogs with syringobulbia.
Williamson B, Davies E, Epperly E, Roynard P, Scrivani PV.
Syringobulbia is a pathologic condition characterized by the presence of one or more fluid-filled cavities within the brainstem. This retrospective case series describes clinical and radiological findings in eight dogs with syringobulbia.
Syringobulbia was diagnosed during magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) carried out for evaluation of intracranial disease. Five dogs also underwent repeat MRI, at intervals ranging between 6 and 55 months. All eight dogs were adult, small-breed dogs with concurrent syringomyelia.
Six dogs had evidence of central vestibular disease on admission. On MRI, the fluid-filled cavities had signal intensity characteristics like cerebrospinal fluid, were in the medulla oblongata and were solitary in each dog. Initially, the shape of the cavity was a slit in five dogs and bulbous in two dogs. On repeat MRI, one dog had progression of syringobulbia from slit-like to bulbous. Four dogs remained as unchanged, slit-like syringobulbia. One dog had MRI prior to development of syringobulbia and, following cranioplasty, a slit-like syringobulbia was detected. A variety of medical and surgical treatments were performed with improvement of some but not all signs. One dog died following surgery due to cardiopulmonary failure and the other seven dogs were alive at least one year after the initial diagnosis, which was the minimal time of follow-up. One surviving dog developed a unilateral hypoglossal nerve deficit two months after the initial diagnosis and mega-oesophagus 14 months later.
Detecting a fluid-filled cavity in the medulla oblongata, consistent with syringobulbia, is possible in dogs undergoing brain MRI. The cavity may be slit-like or bulbous, progress or remain static, and might be associated with syringomyelia, vestibular signs, autonomic dysfunction, and dysphagia.