A Porcine Model for Progressive Thoracic Scoliosis


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Abstract

Study Design.An IACUC-approved study to create a scoliotic deformity representative of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis.Objective.The goal of this study was to develop a reliable porcine scoliosis model and to evaluate the three-dimensional progression of the deformity.Summary of Background Data.Optimal development of nonfusion techniques for treatment of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis requires a reliable large animal model that achieves a progressive three-dimensional (frontal, sagittal, axial) deformity. Limitations in previous work have led our team to the development of a porcine model.Methods.This IACUC-approved study included 18 Yorkshire pigs, obtained at 11 weeks old. Scoliosis was induced through unilateral posterior ligament tethering of the spine via pedicle screw fixation, and ipsilateral ribcage tethering. Progressive deformity was documented with biweekly radiographs. Frontal, sagittal, and axial modifications were assessed using the Cobb method. Animals were observed until severe deformity (>50°) developed, then killed.Results.Animals were observed for a mean 11 weeks. The mean coronal Cobb angle was 25° immediately postoperatively and 55° at 11 weeks. The mean lordosis increased from 4° postoperative to 24° at final follow-up. Apical axial rotation (posterior elements into concavity) increased from 4% postoperative to 27% at 11 weeks. Rate of coronal curve progression was significantly correlated with the initial Cobb index.Conclusion.This study establishes a porcine scoliosis model. With placement of a unilateral ligamentous spinal tether combined with concave ribcage ligament tethering a three-dimensional (frontal, sagittal, and axial) spinal deformity can be obtained. The speed of the progressive deformity leaves significant remaining skeletal growth to assess growth modulating therapies for correction. This work forms the basis for a number of investigative efforts at developing new fusionless therapies for patients suffering from adolescent scoliosis.

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