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Open Access Four-Point Bending as a Method for Quantitatively Evaluating Spinal Arthrodesis in a Rat Model

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The most common method of evaluating the success (or failure) of rat spinal fusion procedures is manual palpation testing. Whereas manual palpation provides only a subjective binary answer (fused or not fused) regarding the success of a fusion surgery, mechanical testing can provide more quantitative data by assessing variations in strength among treatment groups. We here describe a mechanical testing method to quantitatively assess single-level spinal fusion in a rat model, to improve on the binary and subjective nature of manual palpation as an end point for fusion-related studies. We tested explanted lumbar segments from Sprague–Dawley rat spines after single-level posterolateral fusion procedures at L4–L5. Segments were classified as 'not fused,' 'restricted motion,' or 'fused' by using manual palpation testing. After thorough dissection and potting of the spine, 4-point bending in flexion then was applied to the L4–L5 motion segment, and stiffness was measured as the slope of the moment–displacement curve. Results demonstrated statistically significant differences in stiffness among all groups, which were consistent with preliminary grading according to manual palpation. In addition, the 4-point bending results provided quantitative information regarding the quality of the bony union formed and therefore enabled the comparison of fused specimens. Our results demonstrate that 4-point bending is a simple, reliable, and effective way to describe and compare results among rat spines after fusion surgery.

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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Biomechanics Laboratory, Spine Center, Department of Surgery, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA 2: Biomechanics Laboratory, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA 3: Spine Tissue Engineering Laboratory, Spine Center, Department of Surgery, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA 4: Biomechanics Laboratory, Spine Center, Department of Surgery, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California, USA. [email protected]

Publication date: February 1, 2015

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  • Comparative Medicine (CM), an international journal of comparative and experimental medicine, is the leading English-language publication in the field and is ranked by the Science Citation Index in the upper third of all scientific journals. The mission of CM is to disseminate high-quality, peer-reviewed information that expands biomedical knowledge and promotes human and animal health through the study of laboratory animal disease, animal models of disease, and basic biologic mechanisms related to disease in people and animals.

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