The authors conducted a study in which they applied the spinal cord compression-decompression model in rabbits to investigate the morphological changes and histopathological findings in the deformed spinal cord over a long-term period after performing decompressive surgery.
Throughout the experimental period, mangnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained frequently; after obtaining a final MR image, the spinal cord was dissected and underwent histological examination.
Immediately after decompressive surgery, axial T1-wieighted MR imaging revealed an increase in the cross-sectional area of the spinal cord during the 1st and 2nd weeks. The spinal cord area achieved a peak at an average of 5.9 weeks after decompressive surgery, when it displayed isointensity on T1- and high-intensity on T2-weighted images. The main histological findings were spongy changes in the white matter, which persisted for 4 months postsurgery. There was a significant correlation between the presurgical spinal cord area and the postsurgical decreased number of motor neuron cells.
Based on the MR imaging and histopathological studies, although the deformed spinal cord that underwent compression for 3 months was immediately restored morphologically after decompressive surgery, the change in quality in the spinal cord persisted at least 4 months.