Assessing mechanical integrity of spinal fusion by in situ endochondral osteoinduction in the murine model

Ashvin K. Dewan, Rahul A. Dewan, Nathan Calderon, Angie Fuentes, Za Waunyka Lazard, Alan R. Davis, Michael Heggeness, John A. Hipp, Elizabeth A. Olmsted-Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Background: Historically, radiographs, micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) exams, palpation and histology have been used to assess fusions in a mouse spine. The objective of this study was to develop a faster, cheaper, reproducible test to directly quantify the mechanical integrity of spinal fusions in mice.Methods: Fusions were induced in ten mice spine using a previously described technique of in situ endochondral ossification, harvested with soft tissue, and cast in radiolucent alginate material for handling. Using a validated software package and a customized mechanical apparatus that flexed and extended the spinal column, the amount of intervertebral motion between adjacent vertebral discs was determined with static flexed and extended lateral spine radiographs. Micro-CT images of the same were also blindly reviewed for fusion.Results: Mean intervertebral motion between control, non-fused, spinal vertebral discs was 6.1 ± 0.2° during spine flexion/extension. In fusion samples, adjacent vertebrae with less than 3.5° intervertebral motion had fusions documented by micro-CT inspection.Conclusions: Measuring the amount of intervertebral rotation between vertebrae during spine flexion/extension is a relatively simple, cheap (<$100), clinically relevant, and fast test for assessing the mechanical success of spinal fusion in mice that compared favorably to the standard, micro-CT.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number58
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Surgery and Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 21 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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