Introduction: Several studies have described ‘open’ approach techniques for cementation of sheep and goat vertebrae; however, no percutaneous technique has been developed so far for use in non-primates. The aim of this study was to develop an animal model for percutaneous vertebroplasty under clinical conditions. Methods: In a pilot study with dissected cadaveric ovine vertebrae, the technique and instruments as well as the optimal needle position were determined. In an in vivo animal study using 33 lumbar vertebrae of 11 sheep, a percutaneous vertebroplasty was performed under general anaesthesia. Needle position and cement volume were evaluated from high resolution, quantitative computed tomography imaging. Results: The percutaneous technique for vertebroplasty was applicable to the vertebral bodies (L1 to L5) of the ovine lumbar spine without any related adverse effects for the animals. The procedure showed a steep learning curve represented by the reduction of the distance between the actual and planned needle positioning (7.2 mm to 3.7 mm; median value) and shorter surgery times (21.3 min to 15.0 min, average) with progression of the study. Conclusion: The described technique is feasible and repeatable under clinical conditions. This is the first percutaneous vertebroplasty technique for non-primates and we conclude that the sheep is a valid animal model to investigate the effects of cement augmentation in vivo.
Veterinary and Comparative Orthopaedics and Traumatology