A novel vertebral stabilization method for producing contusive spinal cord injury

Melissa J. Walker, Chandler L. Walker, Y. Ping Zhang, Lisa B.E. Shields, Christopher B. Shields, Xiao Ming Xu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Clinically-relevant animal cervical spinal cord injury (SCI) models are essential for developing and testing potential therapies; however, producing reliable cervical SCI is difficult due to lack of satisfactory methods of vertebral stabilization. The conventional method to stabilize the spine is to suspend the rostral and caudal cervical spine via clamps attached to cervical spinous processes. However, this method of stabilization fails to prevent tissue yielding during the contusion as the cervical spinal processes are too short to be effectively secured by the clamps (Figure 1). Here we introduce a new method to completely stabilize the cervical vertebra at the same level of the impact injury. This method effectively minimizes movement of the spinal column at the site of impact, which greatly improves the production of consistent SCIs. We provide visual description of the equipment (Figure 2-4), methods, and a step-by-step protocol for the stabilization of the cervical 5 vertebra (C5) of adult rats, to perform laminectomy (Figure 5) and produce a contusive SCI thereafter. Although we only demonstrate a cervical hemi-contusion using the NYU/MASCIS impactor device, this vertebral stabilization technique can be applied to other regions of the spinal cord, or be adapted to other SCI devices. Improving spinal cord exposure and fixation through vertebral stabilization may be valuable for producing consistent and reliable injuries to the spinal cord. This vertebral stabilization method can also be used for stereotactic injections of cells and tracers, and for imaging using two-photon microscopy in various neurobiological studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere50149
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number95
StatePublished - Jan 5 2015


  • Issue 95
  • Medicine
  • Model
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Spine
  • Stabilization
  • Vertebra
  • Vertebrae

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)

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