Modeling spinal cord injuries: advantages and disadvantages

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Background. Spinal cord injuries have diverse characteristics and associated traumatic changes; they are known as the most severe injuries of locomotorium. The creation of an optimal experimental model of spinal cord injuries using experimental animals, which would have similar changes in humans, is important to assess and analyze the pathological processes, as well as to develop complex treatment methods.

Aim. This study aimed to analyze various experimental models of spinal cord injury using laboratory animals by assessing its advantages and disadvantages for further research and implementation in clinical practice.

Materials and methods. A literature review was performed on the capabilities of experimental models of traumatic spinal cord injury in laboratory animals. A literature search was carried out using databases of PubMed, Science Direct, E-library, and Google Scholar for the period from 1981 to 2019; the keywords are shown below. In total, 105 foreign and 37 domestic articles were identified, 59 articles were analyzed after exclusion, and 75% of studies were published in the last 20 years.

Results. The review of available experimental options of spinal cord injury in laboratory animals revealed that a generally accepted universal model is not yet established. The experimental animal models had characteristics that do not correspond to the same parameters in an actual clinical situation. Besides, some difficulties were encountered in the estimation of pathological processes of experimental animals, translations with clinical changes, and interpretations of achieved functional results in experimental animals, which complicated the application in clinical practice.

Conclusion. Development of experimental models of spinal cord injury that can consider multifactorial aspects of the trauma process, including its biomechanics and time factor, is necessary.

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About the authors

Sergey V. Vissarionov

H. Turner National Medical Research Center for Сhildren’s Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery; North-Western State Medical University named after I.I. Mechnikov

Author for correspondence.
ORCID iD: 0000-0003-4235-5048
SPIN-code: 7125-4930
Scopus Author ID: 6504128319

MD, PhD, D.Sc., Professor, Corresponding Member of RAS, Deputy Director for Research and Academic Affairs, Head of the Department of Spinal Pathology and Neurosurgery

Russian Federation, Saint-Petersburg

Timofey S. Rybinskikh

Saint Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4180-5353
SPIN-code: 7739-4321

5th year student

Russian Federation, Saint Petersburg

Marat S. Asadulaev

H. Turner National Medical Research Center for Сhildren’s Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery

ORCID iD: 0000-0002-1768-2402
SPIN-code: 3336-8996
Scopus Author ID: 57191618743

MD, clinical resident, laboratory assistant in the Laboratory of Experimental Surgery

Russian Federation, Saint-Petersburg

Nikita O. Khusainov

H. Turner National Medical Research Center for Children’s Orthopedics and Trauma Surgery

ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3036-3796
SPIN-code: 8953-5229

MD, PhD, Research Associate of the Department of Pathology of the Spine and Neurosurgery

Russian Federation, Saint Petersburg


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Supplementary files

Supplementary Files
1. Mechanisms of SCI: (a) contusion (contusion; with a fixed spinal column after laminectomy; the spinal cord was damaged with an impactor with a diameter of 2 mm); (b) dislocation (displacement; while holding two spinal motion segments with each clamp, the caudal vertebrae were displaced dorsally); (c) distraction (with the described fixation of the spinal motion segments, the fixed vertebrae were displaced caudally; according to Choo et al. [24])

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Copyright (c) 2021 Vissarionov S.V., Rybinskikh T.S., Asadulaev M.S., Khusainov N.O.

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