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Abstract

Objective

To study biomechanical characteristics of the normal and surgically altered canine thoracolumbar vertebral column to determine the effects of surgery and trauma on lateral stability.

Animals

The T13-L1 vertebral motion units of 48 mixed-breed dogs were dissected free of surrounding musculature and prepared for biomechanical testing by cross-pinning the vertebral bodies and mounting in polymethylmethacrylate.

Procedure

Normal and surgically altered spinal specimens were subjected to lateral bending. The mean slope of the bending moment versus angular displacement curve and the load to failure were compared between treatment groups and significance was determined by the method of least squares (P < 0.05). Specimens were surgically altered by facetectomy, lateral fenestration, diskectomy, and combinations of these procedures. Each specimen was subjected to lateral bending to failure at a rate of 2.5 cm/min in a swing arm bending jig designed to simulate 4-point bending and subject the specimen to pure bending.

Results

Only specimens undergoing diskectomy had a significant decrease in slope and load at failure. Unilateral and bilateral facetectomies and fenestration induced a nonsignificant decrease in stiffness, compared with control specimens.

Conclusions

Fenestrations and facetectomies do not appear to increase the risk of injury to the canine thoracolumbar spinal cord during lateral bending.

Clinical Relevance

Fenestrations and facetectomies, as used in routine laminectomies, may be performed without concern for significant destabilization of the spine in lateral bending; however, it is possible that thoracolumbar spinal fractures involving only the vertebral body may significantly destabilize the spine in all modes of bending. (Am J Vet Res 1996;57:1228-1232)

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association