Can axial loading restore in vivo disc geometry, opening pressure, and T2 relaxation time?

Background Cadaveric intervertebral discs are often studied for a variety of research questions, and outcomes are interpreted in the in vivo context. Unfortunately, the cadaveric disc does not inherently represent the LIVE condition, such that the disc structure (geometry), composition (T2 relaxation time), and mechanical function (opening pressure, OP) measured in the cadaver do not necessarily represent the in vivo disc. Methods We conducted serial evaluations in the Yucatan minipig of disc geometry, T2 relaxation time, and OP to quantify the changes that occur with progressive dissection and used axial loading to restore the in vivo condition. Results We found no difference in any parameter from LIVE to TORSO; thus, within 2 h of sacrifice, the TORSO disc can represent the LIVE condition. With serial dissection and sample preparation the disc height increased (SEGMENT height 18% higher than TORSO), OP decreased (POTTED was 67% lower than TORSO), and T2 time was unchanged. With axial loading, an imposed stress of 0.20–0.33 MPa returned the disc to in vivo, LIVE disc geometry and OP, although T2 time was decreased. There was a linear correlation between applied stress and OP, and this was conserved across multiple studies and species. Conclusion To restore the LIVE disc state in human studies or other animal models, we recommend measuring the OP/stress relationship and using this relationship to select the applied stress necessary to recover the in vivo condition.
This article was originally published in JOR Spine. The version of record is available at: © 2024 The Authors. JOR Spine published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of Orthopaedic Research Society.
axial load, cadaver, MRI, preload, pressure
Newman HR, Moore AC, Meadows KD, et al. Can axial loading restore in vivo disc geometry, opening pressure, and T2 relaxation time? JOR Spine. 2024; 7(2):e1322. doi:10.1002/jsp2.1322