Dr Clare Rusbridge

Reader in Veterinary Neurology

Qualifications: BVMS DECVN PhD MRCVS RCVS and European Specialist in Veterinary Neurology


Further information


I graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1991 and following an internship at the University of Pennsylvania and general practice in Cambridgeshire, I completed a BSAVA/Petsavers Residency and then became Staff Clinician in Neurology at the Royal Veterinary College. I became a Diplomate of the European College of Veterinary Neurology in 1996 and a RCVS Specialist in 1999. In 2007 I was awarded a PhD from Utrecht University for my thesis on Chiari-like malformation & Syringomyelia - a painful disease occurring in some toy breed dogs. For 16 years I operated a neurology and neurosurgery referral service at the Stone Lion Veterinary Hospital in Wimbledon.  In September 2013 I joined Fitzpatrick Referrals and the University of Surrey which allows me to continue my clinical and research work. My professional interests include neuropathic pain, inherited diseases, epilepsy and rehabilitation following spinal injury. I treat many animals with painful and/or distressing inherited disease which motivates my research aiming to find a better way of diagnosing, treating and preventing these conditions. In 2011 I was awarded the J. A. Wright (a.k.a. James Herriot) Memorial Award by The Blue Cross Animal Welfare Charity for my work with the Cavalier King Charles spaniel society with regard to syringomyelia.  I have written over 50 scientific papers, contributed to several veterinary textbooks and have edited a medical textbook on syringomyelia.

Research Interests

1. Pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of syringomyelia
In 1997 I identified and described inherited canine Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia (CMSM) in cavalier King Charles spaniels. Since then, I have initiated many collaborative projects designed to improve our understanding of the phenotypical and genetic nature of CMSM. Current collaborations, together with research assistant Penny Knowler, include:
a) a statistical genetic analysis of whole canine genome scans and establishment of a large DNA collection of dogs affected with CMSM. A collaboration with Dr Z Kibar and Dr. G. Rouleau University of Montreal and currently funded by Canadian Institutes of Health Research
b) investigation of systemic fibrosis in the CKCS with Dr P Watson, Cambridge University currently funded by BSAVA Petsavers
c) Studies with Dr H Volk, Royal Veterinary College of the pathogenic relationship between CM and SM; the effect of CMSM and part of a multicenter trial for novel neuropathic analgesics.
d) The effect of neuropathic pain on neurobiology and behavior in collaboration with Prof Mike Mendl and Dr Jo Murrell, Bristol University.
e) Syringomyelia in the Griffon Bruxellois a study with Drs M Kent, S Platt, SJ Schatzberg University of Georgia
f) The database established by Penny Knowler and myself of 1400 SM affected CKCS collected over 12 years was used by colleagues Drs S Blott and T Lewis in the Animal Health Trust UK to create a computer program generating estimated breeding values for dogs to allow dog breeders the opportunity to select individuals that confer less risk of early onset SM.

2. Expanded repeat in canine epilepsy
I was the chief veterinary collaborator for a project on canine Lafora disease. After identifying this rare progressive epilepsy in a canine patient, I established links with Dr. Berge Minassian of the Hospital for Sick Children, University of Toronto to study the mutation causing the disease. I established a nationwide program of DNA collection from affected dogs and their relatives to conduct a genome scan and characterisation of the mutation. The successful outcome was the first description of a mutation causing canine epilepsy and the first example of a tandem repeat expansion outside of humans. In addition, a test for detection of affected and carrier dogs was established to enable a controlled breeding program in miniature wire haired Dachshunds and Bassett Hounds. In the near future we hope to establish a preventative treatment program.

3. Feline orofacial pain syndrome (FOPS)
This is a novel description of condition in cats analogous to (inherited) trigeminal neuralgia in humans. In addition to describing the phenotypical condition, I established the collection of DNA from affected animals and, in collaboration with Dr L Lyons (University of California) and Dr R Malik (University of Sidney) we are investigating the genetics of this disease. Preliminary data that suggests an association on two chromosomes requires further investigation.

4. Polymyositis in Hungarian Vizsla Dogs 
We have described the disease and established a DNA collection from the Hungarian Vizsla dog breed with genetic susceptibility to polymyositis and other autoimmune diseases. In collaboration with Fitzpatrick referrals neurology resident Anna Taura,  Di Addicott of the Hungarian Vizsla Breed Club and Dr L Kennedy and Dr J Massey of Companion Animal DNA Archive, Manchester University. Preliminary work has identified a haplotype which was significantly raised frequency in affected cases compared to controls.


1. An update on the pathogenesis of syringomyelia secondary to Chiari-like malformations in dogs CJ Driver, HA Volk, C Rusbridge, LM Van Ham The Veterinary Journal, 2013 1–9. doi:10.1016/j.tvjl.2013.07.014
2. Choosing the right drug 2. Anticonvulsants used for second-line therapy C Rusbridge In Practice 35 (4) 183-189
3. Choosing the right drug 1. Anticonvulsants used for first-line therapy C Rusbridge In Practice 35 (3), 106-113
4. Progression of otitis media with effusion in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel SJ McGuinness, EJ Friend, SP Knowler, ND Jeffery, C Rusbridg Veterinary Record 2013 172 (12), 315-315
5. Association of an MHC Class II Haplotype with Increased Risk of Polymyositis in Hungarian Vizsla Dogs J Massey, S Rothwell, C Rusbridge, A Tauro, D Addicott, H Chinoy, RG Cooper ...PLOS ONE 2013  8 (2), e56490
6. Caudal cranial fossa partitioning in Cavalier King Charles spaniels TA Shaw, IM McGonnell, CJ Driver, C Rusbridge, HA Volk Veterinary Record 2013 172 (13), 341-341
7. Changes over time in craniocerebral morphology and syringomyelia in cavalier King Charles spaniels with Chiari-like malformation CJ Driver, L De Risio, S Hamilton, C Rusbridge, R Dennis, IM McGonnell, HA Volk BMC veterinary research 2013 8 (1), 1-7
8. Long-term outcome of Cavalier King Charles spaniel dogs with clinical signs associated with Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia. Plessas IN, Rusbridge C, Driver CJ, Chandler KE, Craig A, McGonnell IM, Brodbelt DC, Volk HA. Vet Rec. 2012 Nov 17;171(20):501. doi: 10.1136/vr.100449. Epub 2012 Oct 25.
9. Questionnaire-based behaviour analysis of Cavalier King Charles spaniels with neuropathic pain due to Chiari-like malformation and syringomyelia. Rutherford L, Wessmann A, Rusbridge , McGonnell IM, Abeyesinghe S, Burn C, Volk HA. Vet Journal. 2012 194 (3), 294-298.
10. Increase in Cerebellar Volume in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with Chiari-like Malformation and Its Role in the Development of Syringomyelia. Shaw TA, McGonnell IM, Driver CJ, Rusbridge C†, Volk HA. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e33660. Epub 2012 Apr 10.
11. Effectiveness of breeding guidelines for reducing the prevalence of syringomyelia. Knowler SP, McFadyen AK, Rusbridge C #. Vet Rec. 2011 Dec 24-31;169(26):681. Epub 2011 Oct 13.
12. Distribution of substance P and calcitonin gene-related peptide in the spinal cord of Cavalier King Charles Spaniels affected by symptomatic syringomyelia.Hu HZ, Rusbridge C, Constantino-Casas F, Jeffery N. Res Vet Sci. 2011 Sep 16.
13. Brain abscess in seven cats due to a bite wound: MRI findings, surgical management and outcome. Costanzo C, Garosi LS, Glass EN, Rusbridge C, Stalin CE, Volk HA. J Feline Med Surg. 2011 Sep;13(9):672-80.
14. Histopathological Investigation of Syringomyelia in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Hu H. Z, Rusbridge C., Constantino-Casas F, Jeffery ND, J Comp Pathol. 2012 Feb;146(2-3):192-201
15. Diagnosis and control of epilepsy in the cat C Rusbridge In Practice 27 (4), 208-214
16. Prevalence of asymptomatic syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Parker JE, Knowler SP, Rusbridge C, Noorman E, Jeffery ND. Veterinary Record. 2011 Jun 25;168(25):667
17. Distribution of syringomyelia along the entire spinal cord in clinically affected Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Loderstedt S, Benigni L, Chandler K, Cardwell JM, Rusbridge C, Lamb CR, Volk HA. Vet J. 2011 Jan 7
18. Myokymia and neuromyotonia in 37 Jack Russell terriers. Bhatti SF, Vanhaesebrouck AE, Van Soens I, Martlé VA, Polis IE, Rusbridge C†, Van Ham LM. Vet J. 2010 Aug 17.
19. Morphometric assessment of cranial volumes in age-matched Cavalier King Charles spaniels with and without syringomyelia. Driver CJ, Rusbridge C, McGonnell IM, Volk HA Vet Rec. 2010 Dec 18;167(25):978-9.
20. Feline orofacial pain syndrome (FOPS): a retrospective study of 113 cases Rusbridge C, Heath S, Gunn-Moore DA, Knowler S.P, Johnson N, McFayden A.K, Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery 2010, 12, 498-508.
21. Relationship of brain parenchyma within the caudal cranial fossa and ventricle size to syringomyelia in cavalier King Charles spaniels Driver C. J., Rusbridge C., Cross H. R., McGonnell I. Volk  H. A. Journal of Small Animal Practice 2010, 51, 382-386.
22. Heritability of syringomyelia in Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Lewis T, Rusbridge C, Knowler P, Blott S, Woolliams JA. Vet J. Vet J. 2010 Mar;183(3):345-7
23. [Chiari-like malformation--syringomyelia in the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel] Mandigers P, Rusbridge C. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd. 2009 Sep 15;134(18):746-50
24. Chiari-like malformation in the Griffon Bruxellois Rusbridge C., Knowler S. P., Pieterse L, McFadyen A. K. Journal of Small Animal Practice 2009 50 (8): 386-393
25. Association between cervical and intracranial dimensions and syringomyelia in the cavalier King Charles spaniel Carruthers H., Rusbridge C, Dubé M.-P., Holmes  M. Jeffery  N. Journal of Small Animal Practice 2009 50 (8): 394-398
26. Comparison of cerebral cranium volumes between cavalier King Charles spaniels with Chiari-like malformation, small breed dogs and Labradors Cross H. R., Cappello R., Rusbridge C.  Journal of Small Animal Practice 2009 50 (8): 399-405
27. Radiographic morphology of the cranial portion of the cervical vertebral column in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels and its relationship to syringomyelia. Stalin CE, Rusbridge C, Granger N, Jeffery ND. Am J Vet Res. 2008 Jan;69(1):89-93.
28. Chiari-like malformation with syringomyelia in the Cavalier King Charles spaniel: long-term outcome after surgical management Rusbridge C. Vet Surg. 2007 Jul;36(5):396-405.
29. Syringomyelia in cavalier King Charles spaniels: the relationship between syrinx dimensions and pain. Rusbridge C, Carruthers H, Dubé MP, Holmes M, Jeffery ND. J Small Anim Pract. 2007 Aug;48(8):432-6. Epub 2007 Jun 30.
30. Cerebellar cortical abiotrophy in Lagotto Romagnolo dogs. Jokinen TS, Rusbridge C, Steffen F, Viitmaa R, Syrjä P, De Lahunta A, Snellman M, Cizinauskas S. J Small Anim Pract. 2007 Aug;48(8):470-3.
31. Report from the Chiari‐Like Malformation and Syringomyelia Working Group Round Table
R Cappello, C Rusbridge Veterinary Surgery 36 (5), 509-512
32. Rostral cerebellar arterial infarct in two cats. Cherubini GB, Rusbridge C, Singh BP, Schoeniger S, Mahoney P. J Feline Med Surg. 2007 Jun;9(3):246-53. Epub 2007 Feb 20.
33. Pathophysiology and treatment of neuropathic pain associated with syringomyelia. Rusbridge C , Jeffery ND. Vet J. 2008 Feb;175(2):164-72. Epub 2007 Feb 20.
34. Coexistence of occipital dysplasia and occipital hypoplasia/syringomyelia in the cavalier King Charles spaniel. Rusbridge C, Knowler SP†. J Small Anim Pract. 2006 Oct;47(10):603-6.
35. Characteristics of magnetic resonance images of granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis in 11 dogs Cherubini GB, Platt SR, Anderson TJ, Rusbridge C, Lorenzo V, Mantis P, Cappello R. Vet Rec. 2006 Jul 22;159(4):110-5.
36. Association of canine hypothyroidism with a common major histocompatibility complex DLA class II allele. Kennedy LJ, Quarmby S, Happ GM, Barnes A, Ramsey IK, Dixon RM, Catchpole B, Rusbridge C, Graham PA, Hillbertz NS, Roethel C, Dodds WJ, Carmichael NG, Ollier WE. Tissue Antigens. 2006 Jul;68(1):82-6.
37. Syringomyelia: current concepts in pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment. Rusbridge C, Greitz D, Iskandar BJ. J Vet Intern Med. 2006 May-Jun;20(3):469-79
38. Inherited myopathy of great Danes. Feliu-Pascual, A Lujan, Shelton GD, Targett MP, Long SN, Comerford EJ, McMillan C, Davies D, Rusbridge C, Mellor D, Chang KC, Anderson TJ. J Small AnimPract. 2006 May;47(5):249-54.
39. Neurological diseases of the Cavalier King Charles spaniel Rusbridge C. J Small Anim Pract. 2005 Jun;46(6):265-72.
40. Inherited occipital hypoplasia/syringomyelia in the cavalier King Charles spaniel: experiences in setting up a worldwide DNA collection Rusbridge C, Knowler P, Rouleau GA, Minassian BA, Rothuizen J. J Hered. 2005;96(7):745-9. Epub 2005 Jun 15.
41. MRI characteristics of suspected acute spinal cord infarction in two cats, and a review of the literature MacKay AD, Rusbridge C, Sparkes AH, Platt SR.. J Feline Med Surg. 2005 Apr;7(2):101-7.
42. Expanded repeat in canine epilepsy Lohi H, Young EJ, Fitzmaurice SN, Rusbridge C, Chan EM, Vervoort M, Turnbull J, Zhao XC, Ianzano L, Paterson AD, Sutter NB, Ostrander EA, André C, Shelton GD, Ackerley CA, Scherer SW, Minassian BA.. Science. 2005 Jan 7;307(5706):81.
43. Inheritance of occipital bone hypoplasia (Chiari type I malformation) in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Rusbridge C, Knowler SP  J Vet Intern Med. 2004 Sep-Oct;18(5):673-8.
44. Hereditary aspects of occipital bone hypoplasia and syringomyelia (Chiari type I malformation) in cavalier King Charles spaniels. Rusbridge C, Knowler SP  Vet Rec. 2003 Jul 26;153(4):107-12.
45. Dorsal dens angulation and a Chiari type malformation in a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel.Bynevelt M, Rusbridge C, Britton J. Vet Radiol Ultrasound. 2000 Nov-Dec;41(6):521-4.
46. Syringohydromyelia in Cavalier King Charles spaniels. Rusbridge C, MacSweeny JE, Davies JV, Chandler K, Fitzmaurice SN, Dennis R, Cappello R, Wheeler SJ. J Am AnimHosp Assoc. 2000 Jan-Feb;36(1):34-41.
47. Vertebral plasma cell tumors in 8 dogs. Rusbridge C, Wheeler SJ, Lamb CR, Page RL, Carmichael S, Brearley MJ, Bjornson AP. J Vet Intern Med. 1999 Mar-Apr;13(2):126-33.
48. Comparison of two surgical techniques for the management of cervical spondylomyelopathy in dobermanns. Rusbridge C, Wheeler SJ, Torrington AM, Pead MJ, Carmichael S. J Small AnimPract. 1998 Sep;39(9):425-31.
49. Myelin splitting, Schwann cell injury and demyelination in feline diabetic neuropathy. Mizisin AP, Shelton GD, Wagner S, Rusbridge C, Powell HC. ActaNeuropathol. 1998 Feb;95(2):171-4.
50. Collection and interpretation of cerebrospinal fluid in cats and dogs C Rusbridge In Practice 19 (6), 322-331
51. Treatment of acquired myasthenia gravis associated with thymoma in two dogs. Rusbridge C, White RN, Elwood CM, Wheeler SJ. J Small AnimPract. 1996 Aug;37(8):376-80.
52. Neospora caninum infection in three dogs Knowler C, Wheeler SJ.. J Small Anim Pract. 1995 Apr;36(4):172-7.
53. Factor XI deficiency in Kerry Blue Terriers. Knowler C,Giger U, Dodds WJ, Brooks M. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 1994 Dec 1;205(11):1557-61.
54. Investigations into causes of death of endangered molluscs (Partula species). Cooper JE, Knowler C Vet Rec. 1992 Oct 10;131(15):342-4.
55. Snails and snail farming: an introduction for the veterinary profession. Cooper JE, Knowler C. Vet Rec. 1991 Dec 21-28;129(25-26):541-9..
56. Tumours in Russian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) Cooper JE, Knowler C, Pearson AJ. Vet Rec. 1991 Apr 6;128(14):335-6

1. Syringomyelia: A Disorder of CSF Circulation: Current Understanding, Best Clinical Practice and Research Perspectives Graham Flint (Editor), Clare Rusbridge (Editor). Springer 2012 (in progress)  
2. Treatment of Chiari malformation and Syringomyelia in Kirk’s Current Veterinary Therapy XIV edBonagura, J.D. and Twedt D.C. Saunders Elsevier Missouri 2009 Chapter 240 pp1102-1107
3. Syringomyelia and Chiari malformation in 5 Minute Veterinary Consult: Canine and Feline 4thand 5thEdition Ed Tilley L.P. and Smith F.W.K. Blackwell Publishing 2007 pp 1321,  2011 pp 1216


1. The Advisory Council for Welfare Breeding Pedigree Dogs –The role of the Council is to encourage and facilitate significant improvements in the welfare issues associated with dog breeding by providing independent, expert advice to governments and other stakeholders. I was appointed to this panel in 2010 from its inception

2. Scrutineer British Veterinary Association/ Kennel Club CMSM MRI screening scheme I played a pivotal role in establishing this scheme and have been a scruitneer since its inception.

3. International League Against Epilepsy in Small Animals. I am part of a multicenter task force 1. To suggest consensus statements and provide definitions for canine and feline epilepsy and 2. To advance the field by doing collaborative research and exchanging ideas.

4. The Ann Conroy Trust - I was Made a Honorary Friend of the Society in 2006 and appointed to “Syringomyelia 2007” Scientific Faculty and organized the veterinary part of this International conference held in Rugby, UK October 2007.  I am a member of the British Syringomyelia Group- a group of neurosurgeons involved in treatment of syringomyelia.

5. Phyllis Croft Foundation for Canine Epilepsy - I am the veterinary advisory for this charity.

4. I on the Editorial Board for Canine Genetics and Epidemiology a peer-reviewed open access journal published by BioMed Central in affiliation with the UK Kennel Club.

5. I am a regular reviewer of scientific articles for Veterinary Comparative Orthopedics and Traumatology, Journal of Small Animal Practice, Veterinary Record, Veterinary Radiology and Ultrasound, American Journal of Veterinary Research, Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine and occasionally other journals.

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