Low cost MRI clinics

MRIs (magnetic resonance images) are the diagnostic tool of choice for syringyomyelia because MRIs give a full interior view of the body, both soft tissues and bone (see some actual images here). If present, the skull malformation is visible, as is the herniation of the cerebellum (the forcing of the brain out the opening into the spinal cord) and the individual syrinxes (fluid pockets) within the spine. Without very clear clinical symptoms, an MRI is the only way of definitively diagnosing SM.

However, it is also an expensive diagnostic tool, running from approximately $600-$2500 in the US and £800-£1500 in the UK. Cost is probably the biggest impediment to breeders and pet owners having an MRI done. Fortunately, some facilities have made lower cost MRIs available to cavalier breeders and owners, in some cases in association with ongoing research projects. If you suspect your cavalier has SM and are considering treatment options, be sure to speak to the clinic about whether it is better to have a full MRI, as the more limited views and consultation offered by some of the low cost clinics may not be adequate for treatment.

US clinics

Long Island Veterinary Specialists (LIVS): LIVS offer a special package of tests including an MRI, BAER hearing testing, and a thermography scan and a consultation for around $500 per dog in groups of three or more (contact them to discuss rates for individual dogs). They plan to offer a CT scan as well as part of this programme which will also produce information for research -- LIVS hopes to be able to find ways of diagnosing SM without the need for an MRI. Owners get copies of scans plus an evaluation and a grade according to the breeding protocol, plus a certificate. For more information, contact Dr. Dominic Marino, LIVS, 163 South Service Road, Plainview, NY, 11803. Phone (516) 501-1700 (ask for Alexis), or email Bongorno@aol.com. Website: http://www.livs.org; information on SM and MRI clinic: http://www.livs.org/livsnews.htm

Pets Dx Veterinary Imaging Clinic
: This clinic in Garfield Heights, Ohio (Cleveland area) and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania offers partial MRIs at reduced rates for cavaliers (about  two-thirds of the average cost for an MRI in the US. As of January 2007 the price being quoted in Pittsburgh including neurologist consult was $1,275). These MRIs are of the head and neck area, not the full spine; however in most cases, the head and neck MRI is very adequate for diagnosis. Owners get a CD with their dogs' MRI images.  For more information, contact Pets Dx Veterinary Imaging, Inc., 15423 Neo Parkway, Garfield Heights, OH 44128. Phone: (216) 581-7200, or at 1050 Saxonburg Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15116. Phone: (412) 486-4800. Website:  http://www.petsdx.com

Other low cost options:

* Dr Curtis Dewey offers MRIs for SM for around $650 at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY. Phone: (607) 253-4445
* Dr. Todd Axlund offers MRIs for about $600 at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. Phone: (334) 844-4690

UK clinics

There are several neurologists offering low cost MRIs in the UK. These cost about £200-300 per dog and in some cases, £175 each for three or more dogs together (as of posting). Owners get copies of images and a certificate for each dog. In some cases owners can consult with the neurologist. Treatment for SM may require additional MRIs and consultations.
Chestergates Veterinary Hospital, Telford Court, Chester Gate, Chester CH1 6LT. Tel: 01244 853823
Mr Andrew Robinson, Dovecote Veterinary Hospital, 5 Delven Lane, Castle Donington, Derbyshire, DE74 2LJ. Tel: 01332 810395; email: alisonrobinson@dovecoteveterinaryhospital.co.uk
Dr Clare Rusbridge, Fitzpatrick Referrals, Halfway Lane, Eashing, Godalming, Surrey GU7 2QQ Tel: 01483 423761 - See more at: http://www.fitzpatrickreferrals.co.uk; a CD of images is provided and a certificate indicating the grade given the dog. Download this document for further information.

Dr Mr A. Sim, Heathlands Veterinary Hospital Ltd., Winfrith, Dorchester, Dorset, DT2 8DD. Tel: 01929 462535. For details, the UK CKCS Club asks that people contact Sue Newnes at email: penquite@uwclub.net
Dr Gerard te Lintelo, Wear Referrals, 5-11 Tenters Street, Bishop Auckland, Co. Durham, DI14 7AD. Tel: 01388 602707. Email: wear-referrals@vetsurgeon.co.uk

Robin Creighton, The Veterinary Practice, Millenium Way, Braintree, Essex, CM7 3GX. Tel: 01376 325511

Jonathan Underwood, Farnbrough Veterinary Centre, 19 Farnborough Street, Farnbrough. GU14. 8AG Tel: 01252 511988

Research studies

Occasional research studies have enabled some cavaliers to obtain free or low cost MRIs, assessments and/or treatment.