A Novel Model of Fetal Spinal Cord Exposure Allowing for Long-Term Postnatal Survival

Sarah C. Stokes, Jordan E. Jackson, Christina M. Theodorou, Christopher D. Pivetti, Priyadarsini Kumar, Kaeli J. Yamashiro, Aijun Wang, Diana L. Farmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The inherent morbidity associated with fetal ovine models of myelomeningocele (MMC) has created challenges for long-term survival of lambs. We aimed to develop a fetal ovine surgical spinal exposure model which could be used to evaluate long-term safety after direct spinal cord application of novel therapeutics for augmentation of in utero MMC repair. Methods: At gestational age (GA) 100-106, fetal lambs underwent surgical intervention. Laminectomy of L5-L6 was performed, dura was removed, and an experimental product was directly applied to the spinal cord. Paraspinal muscles and skin were closed and the fetus was returned to the uterus. Lambs were delivered via cesarean section at GA 140-142. Lambs were survived for 3 months with regular evaluation of motor function by the sheep locomotor rating scale. Spinal angulation was evaluated by magnetic resonance imaging at 2 weeks and 3 months. Results: Five fetal surgical intervention lambs and 6 control lambs who did not undergo surgical intervention were included. All lambs survived to the study endpoint of 3 months. No lambs had motor function abnormalities or increased spinal angulation. Conclusion: This model allows for long-term survival after fetal spinal cord exposure with product application directly onto the spinal cord.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)472-478
Number of pages7
JournalFetal Diagnosis and Therapy
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021


  • Animal model
  • Fetal surgery
  • Myelomeningocele
  • Spina bifida

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Embryology
  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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