Establishment of a Novel Method for Spinal Discectomy Surgery in Elderly Rats in an In Vivo Spinal Fusion Model

Oswald, Katharina A. C.; Bigdon, Sebastian F.; Croft, Andreas S.; Bermudez-Lekerika, Paola; Bergadano, Alessandra; Gantenbein, Benjamin; Albers, Christoph E. (2021). Establishment of a Novel Method for Spinal Discectomy Surgery in Elderly Rats in an In Vivo Spinal Fusion Model. Methods and protocols, 4(4), p. 79. MDPI AG 10.3390/mps4040079

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The rat model is a common model for intervertebral disc (IVD) and spinal research. However, complications remain challenging. Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are validated methods to minimize complications and improve safety and quality of studies. However, a SOP for rat spinal fusion surgery has been missing until now. Therefore, the aim of the study was to develop a SOP for spinal tail disc surgery in elderly Wistar rats (419.04 ± 54.84 g). An initial preoperative, intraoperative, and postoperative surgical setup, including specific anaesthesia and pain management protocols, was developed. Anaesthesia was induced by subcutaneous injection of a pre-mixture of fentanyl, midazolam, and medetomidin with the addition of 0.5% isoflurane in oxygen and caudal epidural analgesia. The surgery itself consisted of the fixation of a customized external ring fixator with ⌀ 0.8 mm Kirschner wires at the proximal rat tail and a discectomy and replacement with bone morphogenetic protein coated beta-tricalcium-phosphate carrier. The postoperative setup included heating, analgesia with buprenorphine, and meloxicam, as well as special supplementary food. Anaesthesia, surgery, and pain management were sufficient. In the presented optimized SOP, no animals developed any complications. A SOP for spinal surgery in elderly rats in an in vivo spinal fusion model was developed successfully. This novel protocol can improve transparency, reproducibility, and external validity in experimental rat spinal surgery experiments.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Further Contribution)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Faculty Institutions > Experimental Animal Center (EAC)
04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Orthopaedic, Plastic and Hand Surgery (DOPH) > Clinic of Orthopaedic Surgery
04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > BioMedical Research (DBMR)

Graduate School:

Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB)

UniBE Contributor:

Oswald, Katharina Anna Christine, Bigdon, Sebastian, Croft, Andreas Shaun, Bermudez, Paola, Bergadano, Alessandra, Gantenbein, Benjamin, Albers, Christoph E.


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health








Benjamin Gantenbein

Date Deposited:

16 Nov 2021 16:09

Last Modified:

28 Apr 2024 17:54

Publisher DOI:





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