1515. Combined Annulus Fibrosus Repair and Nucleus Pulposus Replacement in An In-vivo Ovine Study

Authors: Christoph Wipplinger; Sertac Kirnaz, MD; Stephen Sloan; Rodrigo Navarro-Ramirez; Franziska Schmidt, MD; Antonelli Schiavinato; Lawrence Bonassar; Roger Härtl, MD (New York, NY)


Objective of the current study is to assess the efficacy of combined annulus fibrosus (AF) using high-density collagen (HDC) gel and nucleus pulposus (NP) repair using a hyaluronic acid (HA) gel in an in-vivo sheep model.


We performed an anterolateral, retroperitoneal pre-psoas approach to access the IVDs L1-6 in a total of 8 skeletally mature Finn sheep. IVDs were randomized into 5 groups 1) intact, 2) injured via 3x10mm box annulotomy and removal of 200mg of NP; 3) injury and HDC gel patch for AF repair, 4) injury and injection of a HA gel into the NP and 5) injury and HDC AF repair and NP HA replacement. At 6 weeks postoperatively, sheep were sacrificed and underwent post-mortem 3T-MRI scans as well as gross anatomical and histological evaluation. Disc height index (DHI) analysis and Pfirrmann grading (PG) were performed on each segment using MR images.


Intact control discs were not degenerated and had an average PG of 1 while injured, untreated discs had significant degeneration with an average PG of 3. Discs receiving the combined injection and collagen AF patch individually showed fewer signs of degeneration than injured alone and the combined treatment resulted in the least amount of degeneration with PG not significantly different than the intact controls. DHI confirmed the trends seen in the PG, where injured discs lost 20% of the intact disc height, the individual NP and AF repairs restored 5-10% of intact disc height, and the combined repairs preserved 90% of the intact disc height (Figure 1 and 2).


PG and DHI results demonstrate that individual NP and AF repairs are able to prevent disc degeneration better than no treatment at all, however the greatest preservation of disc health was seen with combined AF and NP repairs.