O. Lundin, Lars Ekström, Mikael Hellström, Sten Holm, Leif Swärd

December 2000, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 466 - 471 Original article Read Full Article 10.1007/s005860000164

First Online: 11 December 2000

Recent studies of the spine in adolescents who have sustained trauma have shown injuries to the growth zone, whereas injuries to the vertebral body have been described in other studies of only adults. There are also reports on different clinical signs and radiological findings in adolescents with lumbar disc herniation when compared to adults. In order to find an explanation for these differences between adolescents and adults, this experimental study was performed. Six cadaveric lumbar motion segments (vertebral body-disc-vertebral body) obtained from three young male pigs and six lumbar motion segments obtained from three mature male pigs were tested in axial compression to failure. All units were examined with plain radiography and magnetic resonance imaging before and after compression. After the compression, histological samples were taken from the injury site. In the adolescents, a fracture was consistently found in the endplate through the posterior part of the growth zone, displacing the anulus fibrosus with a bony fragment at the point of insertion to the vertebra. This type of injury could not be detected in any of the adults; instead, there was a fracture of the vertebra in four cases, and in two cases, a rupture of the anulus fibrosus without a bony fragment was seen. This study showed that, when compressed to failure, the weakest part of the lumbar spine of the adolescent pig differs from that of the mature pig in the same way that studies on human spinal units have shown.

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