To test whether multiple-level unilateral thoracic spinal nerves (TSN) resection can induce the initial thoracic cage deformity to cause early onset thoracic scoliosis in an immature porcine model; and 2) to create an early onset thoracic scoliosis in a large animal model that can be used to evaluate growth-friendly surgical techniques and instruments in growing spine researches.
Seventeen one-month-old pigs were assigned to 3 groups. In group 1 (n = 6), right TSN were resected from T7 to T14 with the contralateral (left) paraspinal muscle exposing and stripping. In group 2 (n = 5), the animals were treated in the same way except the contralateral (left) side was intact. In group 3 (n = 6), bilateral TSN were resected from T7 to T14. All animals were followed up for 17-weeks. Radiographs were measured and analyzed the correlation between the Cobb angle and thoracic cage deformity. A histological examination of the intercostal muscle (ICM) was performed.
In the groups 1 and 2, an average 62 ± 12° and 42 ± 15° right thoracic scoliosis with apical hypokyphosis of a mean − 5.2 ± 16° and − 1.8 ± 9° were created, respectively, during 17-weeks follow up. All curves were located at the operated levels with the convexity toward the TSN resection side. Statistical analysis demonstrated that the thoracic deformities were strongly correlated with the Cobb angle. In group 3, no scoliosis was created in any animal, but an average thoracic lordosis of − 32.3 ± 20.3° was seen. The histological examination showed the ICM denervation on the TSN resection side.
Unilateral TSN resection induced the initial thoracic deformity toward the TSN resection side resulting in thoracic hypokyphotic scoliosis in an immature pig model. This early onset thoracic scoliosis model could be used to evaluate the growth-friendly surgical techniques and instruments in future growing spine researches.