Biomechanical and Radiographic Evaluation of an Ovine Model for the Human Lumbar Spine
Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part H: Journal of Engineering in Medicine
While various species of animal models have been used in preclinical investigations of spinal implant devices to assess their biological adaptation and biomechanical performance, few studies have made comprehensive comparisons to validate their suitability of modelling the human spine. The purpose of this study was to assess essential biomechanical behaviours and disc morphology of the ovine lumbar model. Flexibility testing was conducted on the spines (L3—L4 and L4—L5) of nine skeletally matured sheep. Segmental rotation and intradiscal pressure were measured and load sharing between the intervertebral disc and posterior elements were calculated on the basis of a simplified parallel spring model. Following the tests, the spinal segments were sectioned into a series of sagittal slabs, and transverse radiographs of these slabs were taken to evaluate the variation in the disc height and end-plate curvature. Comparing the biomechanical and radiographic results with published data on the human lumbar spine, good comparability between the ovine and cadaveric lumbar spines was found in terms of the general disc shape and in most of the biomechanical parameters including the range of motion, neutral zone, and load sharing between the intervertebral disc and posterior elements. A few distinctive differences were also found between the two, including flatter sagittal alignment, smaller disc dimensions, and greater lateral bending motion in the ovine model.