Direct-trauma model of posttraumatic syringomyelia with a computer-controlled motorized spinal cord impactor

Wong, Johnny H. Y., Song, Xin, Hemley, Sarah J., Bilston, Lynne E., Cheng, Shaokoon and Stoodley, Marcus A. (2016) Direct-trauma model of posttraumatic syringomyelia with a computer-controlled motorized spinal cord impactor. Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine, 24 5: 797-805. doi:10.3171/2015.10.SPINE15742

Author Wong, Johnny H. Y.
Song, Xin
Hemley, Sarah J.
Bilston, Lynne E.
Cheng, Shaokoon
Stoodley, Marcus A.
Title Direct-trauma model of posttraumatic syringomyelia with a computer-controlled motorized spinal cord impactor
Journal name Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1547-5654
Publication date 2016-05
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.3171/2015.10.SPINE15742
Open Access Status Not yet assessed
Volume 24
Issue 5
Start page 797
End page 805
Total pages 9
Place of publication Rolling Meadows, IL United States
Publisher American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract

The pathogenesis of posttraumatic syringomyelia remains enigmatic and is not adequately explained by current theories. Experimental investigations require a reproducible animal model that replicates the human condition. Current animal models are imperfect because of their low reliability, severe neurological deficits, or dissimilar mechanism of injury. The objective of this study was to develop a reproducible rodent model of posttraumatic syringomyelia using a spinal cord impactor that produces an injury that more closely mimics the human condition and does not produce severe neurological deficits.


The study consisted of 2 parts. Seventy animals were studied overall: 20 in Experiment 1 and 48 in Experiment 2 after two rats with severe deficits were killed early. Experiment 1 aimed to determine the optimal force setting for inducing a cystic cavity without neurological deficits using a computer-controlled motorized spinal cord impactor. Twenty animals received an impact that ranged from 50 to 150 kDyn. Using the optimal force for producing an initial cyst determined from Experiment 1, Experiment 2 aimed to compare the progression of cavities in animals with and those without arachnoiditis induced by kaolin. Forty-eight animals were killed at 1, 3, 6, or 12 weeks after syrinx induction. Measurements of cavity size and maximum anteroposterior and lateral diameters were evaluated using light microscopy.


In Experiment 1, cavities were present in 95% of the animals. The duration of limb weakness and spinal cord cavity size correlated with the delivered force. The optimal force chosen for Experiment 2 was 75 kDyn. In Experiment 2, cavities occurred in 92% of the animals. Animals in the kaolin groups developed larger cavities and more vacuolations and enlarged perivascular spaces than those in the nonkaolin groups.


This impact model reliably produces cavities that resemble human posttraumatic syringomyelia and is suitable for further study of posttraumatic syringomyelia pathophysiology.
Keyword Spinal cord injury
Posttraumatic myelopathy
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
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