Common Terms

A medical glossary with detailed explanation of common terms used in the diagnosis and treatment of Canine Chiari - like malformation.

Adhesions: Tissue surfaces that are attached to each other as a result of wound healing or inflammation.

Alignment: The adjustment of a structure in line with other structures.

Analgesic: An agent that relieves pain without causing loss of consciousness.

Anomaly: A deviation from the average or norm.

Arachnoid: Delicate, web-like middle layer of the three membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.

Asymmetry: The lack of proportion between parts of the body.

Asymptomatic: Without symptoms, or producing no symptoms.

Attenuation: Thinning or weakening.

Autonomic nervous system: Portion of the nervous system that functions to control the actions of the visceral organs and the skin.

Axial: A plane or section that divides the body into cranial and caudal portions, also known as transverse.

Brachycephalic: Breeds with a short wide head.

Brain auditory evoked response (BAER): Measures the timing of electrical waves from the brainstem in response to clicks or tone bursts in the ear.

Brainstem: The portion of the brain that includes the midbrain, pons and medulla, thalamus and hypothalamus.

Cauda/Caudal fossa: Concavity at the back of the skull wherein the cerebellum lies.

Caudal: Toward the hind end or tail.

Caudal Occipital Malformation Syndrome: Also known as COMS refers to Chiari-Like malformation in dogs.

Central canal: The opening or channel normally present throughout the length of the spinal cord.

Central nervous system: The part of the nervous system consisting of the brain and spinal cord, which coordinates the entire nervous system.

Cerebellum: The portion of the brain lies in the back of the skull and coordinates skeletal muscle movement.

Cerebrospinal fluid: The fluid occupying the ventricles of the brain , subarachnoid space of the meninges, and the central canal of the spinal cord.

Cerebrum: Portion of the brain that occupies the upper part of the skull. Also called the telencephalon.

Cervical: The area of the neck made up of seven vertebrae, which are counted from the head down. C1 is the first vertebrae followed by C2, C3, etc.

Chiari-like malformation: Descent of the brainstem and lower cerebellum through the foramen magnum into the cervical vertebral canal.

Cine MRI: The test performed in the MRI scanner that looks at the flow of CSF around the cerebellum and into the spinal canal.

Computed tomography: A diagnostic procedure that uses special x-ray equipment to obtain cross-sectional pictures of the body. A computer displays these pictures as detailed images of organs, bones, and other tissues.

Cranial settling: A condition where the skull rests too low on the spinal column, with spinal cord and brain stem compression.

Craniocervical: The region where the skull meets the cervical vertebrae.

Cranioplasty: Surgical repair of a defect or deformity of the skull.

Decompression: To relieve or take pressure off.

Dermatologic: Pertaining to or affecting the skin.

Digital infrared thermographic imaging: see medical infrared imaging

Dorsal: Directed toward or situated on the back surface, facing away from the ground.

Dura mater: Tough outer layer of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Durotomy: An incision into the dura mater.

Ependymal lining: The layer of epithelial cells lining the brain and spinal cord.

Epilepsy: A chronic disorder of cerebral function characterized by periodic convulsive seizures.

Extravasation: The pouring out of a body fluid from its proper channel or vessel into the surrounding tissue.

Feline infectious peritonitis: A fatal, incurable viral disease that affects cats. The virus has the ability to invade and grow in white blood cells. The immune system's response causes an intense inflammatory reaction in the containing tissues.

Foramen: An opening, usually in bone or organ or membrane. Foramina is pleural.

Foramen magnum: Large opening in the base of the skull through which the spinal cord becomes continuous with the medulla oblongata.

Forebrain: Also called the prosencephalon, is the forward-most portion of the brain. The prosencephalon separates into the diencephalon (thalamus, hypothalamus,) and the telencephalon (cerebrum).

Fossa: A depression or cavity within bone or surrounded by bone.

Frontal sinus: Paired sinus cavities rostral to the brain cavity.

Hydrocephalus: Enlargement of the normal cavities (ventricles) of the brain. It may result from impairment in the outflow of CSF, developmental anomalies, infection, injury or brain tumors.

Hydromyelia: Accumulation of fluid in the enlarged central canal of the spinal cord.

Hyperesthesia: An abnormal or pathological increase in sensitivity to stimuli.

Hypoplasia: Failure of a tissue or organ to achieve complete development.

Intervertebral: Between two vertebrae.

Intracranial: Within the cranium.

Laminectomy: Surgical removal of the dorsal arch of the vertebrae.

Lateral: Pertaining to the side of the body.

Loop diuretic: A drug that increases urine production by inhibiting resorption of salts from the loop of Henle of the kidney.

Lumbar: The region between the thorax and the sacrum, numbering seven in dogs and cats.

Magnetic resonance imaging: A scanner using magnetic energy that interacts with tissue to yield clear black and white pictures.

Medical infrared imaging: A noninvasive diagnostic technique that allows the examiner to visualize and quantify changes in skin surface temperature. An infrared scanning device is used to convert infrared radiation emitted from the skin surface into electrical impulses that are visualized in color on a monitor. The spectrum of colors indicate an increase or decrease in the amount of infrared radiation being emitted from the body surface.

Medulla: Portion of the brainstem located between the pons and the spinal cord.

Meninges: A group of three membranes that covers the brain and spinal cord. The closest to the brain and spinal cord is the pia mater, then arachnoid, and the outermost is the dura mater.

Myelo: Refers to the spinal cord.

Occipital: The back of the head.

Occipital bone: The bone at the back of the skull that houses the cerebellum.

Osseous: consisting of or containing bone.

Paraesthesia: Abnormal sensation such as burning, prickling, tingling, etc.

Pia mater: The inner membrane of the meninges that encloses the brain and the spinal cord.

Primary secretory otitis media: Also known as glue ear, consists of a highly viscous mucus plug which fills the dog's middle ear and may cause the tympanic membrane to bulge.

Rostral: Toward the front of the head.

Sagittal: A plane or section that divides a body into right and left portions.

Shunt: To divert fluid from one path/region to another either by surgical methods or apparatus.

Spina bifida: Failure of the spine to close properly during the development. The spinal cord and meninges may or may not protrude.

Spinal dysraphism: Incomplete closure of the neural tube during development with a complete or partial defect. An umbrella term for spina bifida.

Syringomyelia: A disease of the spinal cord characterized by fluid filled cavities within the spinal cord substance.

Syringohydromyelia: Older terminology referring to syringomyelia.

Syrinx: A fluid filled cavity within the spinal cord.

Telencephalon: The rostral division of the brain.

Tesla: The International System unit of magnetic flux density; measurement of strength of a MRI magnet.

Thermography: see medical infrared imaging

Thoracic: The area of the back between the cervical and lumbar region comprised of thirteen vertebrae.

Ventriculomegaly: Enlargement of the ventricles of the brain.

Venturi effect: The reduction in fluid pressure that results when a fluid flows through a constricted section of a tube.

Vertebral canal: The canal formed by the series of vertebral foramina together, enclosing the spinal cord and meninges.

Vertebral column: The spine.
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A reference guide for veterinary professionals interested in Chiari -Like Malformation and Syringomyelia.