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Lab Anim Res. 2013 Sep;29(3):138-47. doi: 10.5625/lar.2013.29.3.138. Epub 2013 Sep 27.

Morphometrical dimensions of the sheep thoracolumbar vertebrae as seen on digitised CT images.

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Large Animal Clinic for Surgery, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. ; Department of Surgery and Anaesthesia, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Khartoum, Shambat, Sudan.


The sheep spine is widely used as a model for preclinical research in human medicine to test new spinal implants and surgical procedures. Therefore, precise morphometric data are needed. The present study aimed to provide computed tomographic (CT) morphometry of sheep thoracolumbar spine. Five adult normal Merino sheep were included in this study. Sheep were anaesthetised and positioned in sternal recumbency. Subsequently, transverse and sagittal images were obtained using a multi-detector-row helical CT scanner. Measurements of the vertebral bodies, pedicles, intervertebral disc and transverse processes were performed with dedicated software. Vertebral bodies and the spinal canal were wider than they were deep, most obviously in the lumbar vertebrae. The intervertebral discs were as much as 57.4% thicker in the lumbar than in the thoracic spine. The pedicles were higher and longer than they were wide over the entire thoracolumbar spine. In conclusion, the generated data can serve as a CT reference for the ovine thoracolumbar spine and may be helpful in using sheep spine as a model for human spinal research.


Ovine; animal model; computed tomography; reference values; spine anatomy

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