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Technique for the Harvesting of Human Cadaveric Spines

Gorup, John M., MD*; Merola, Andrew A., MD*; Bono, Christopher M., MD; Zipnick, Richard I., MD*; Morganstern, Walter, MD; Shin, Tae M., MD*; Grossman, Mark G., MD; Haher, Thomas R., MD


Study Design. One hundred twelve fresh cadaveric spines were harvested using a newly described technique.

Objectives. To develop and describe a technique for the expeditious excision of intact human cadaveric spines for biomechanical testing, to educate the dissector on the health and safety issues involved in harvesting spinal specimens, and to review the present recommendations for storage and preservation of spinal segments.

Summary of the Background Data. As the need for biomechanical spinal research continues to expand, the demand for fresh human cadaveric vertebral specimens increases. Previous techniques for harvesting are simplistic and sparse. This technique offers a reliable and expeditious method for procurement of spinal vertebral segments of any size.

Methods. Human cadaveric spines were harvested using an adaptation of previous posterior spinal approaches. Techniques for sectioning each vertebral region were developed. Detailed description of these techniques was meticulously documented. The procured spinal segments have been used for multiple biomechanical investigations.

Results. The technique has been used successfully in more than 100 spinal harvests. Approximate time required is 30 minutes. The harvested segments have been reliable biomechanical specimens in many published studies.

Conclusions. A new technique for the rapid extraction of human cadaveric spines has been developed. Dissectors may benefit from the recommendations offered for sectioning of each region.

From the *Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn, Brooklyn, New York; the † Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Newark, New Jersey; and the ‡Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Saint Vincents Hospital and Medical Center of New York, New York.

Acknowledgment date: February 27, 1996.

First revision date: February 10, 1998.

Acceptance date: April 1, 1998.

Device status category: 1.

Address reprint requests to: Thomas R. Haher, MD; Professor and Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery; Saint Vincents Hospital and Medical Center of New York; 203 West 12th Street - Suite 2056; New York, NY 10011; E-mail:

© 1998 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins