Zihe Li, Shuheng Zhai, Shanshan Liu, Chunhua Chen, Xinhu Guo, Panpan Hu, Ben Wang, Youyu Zhang, Feng Wei, Zhongjun Liu

February 2022, pp 1 - 9 Original Article Read Full Article 10.1007/s00586-022-07138-6

First Online: 22 February 2022


This study aimed to establish an animal model in which we can precisely displace the spinal cord and therefore mimic the chronic spinal compression of cervical spondylotic myelopathy.


In vivo intervertebral compression devices (IVCDs) connected with subcutaneous control modules (SCCMs) were implanted into the C2-3 intervertebral disk spaces of sheep and connected by Bluetooth to an in vitro control system. Sixteen sheep were divided into four groups: (Group A) control; (Group B) 10-week progressive compression, then held; (Group C) 20-week progressive compression, then held; and (Group D) 20-week progressive compression, then decompression. Electrophysiological analysis (latency and amplitude of the N1-P1-N2 wave in somatosensory evoked potentials, SEP), behavioral changes (Tarlov score), imaging test (encroachment ratio (ER) of intraspinal invasion determined by X-ray and CT scan), and histological examinations (hematoxylin and eosin, Nissl, and TUNEL staining) were performed to assess the efficacy of our model.


Tarlov scores gradually decreased as compression increased with time and partially recovered after decompression. The Pearson correlation coefficient between ER and time was r = 0.993 (p < 0.001) in Group B at 10 weeks and Groups C and D at 20 weeks. And ER was negatively correlated with the Tarlov score (r = -0.878, p < 0.001). As compression progressed, the SEP latency was significantly extended (p < 0.001), and the amplitude significantly decreased (p < 0.001), while they were both partially restored after decompression. The number of abnormal motor neurons and TUNEL-positive cells increased significantly (p < 0.001) with compression.


Our implantable and wireless intervertebral compression model demonstrated outstanding controllability and reproducibility in simulating chronic cervical spinal cord compression in animals.

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