Pig lumbar spine anatomy and imaging-guided lateral lumbar puncture: A new large animal model for intrathecal drug delivery

Josef Pleticha, Timothy P. Maus, Christian Jeng-Singh, Michael P. Marsh, Fadi Al-Saiegh, Jodie A. Christner, Kendall H. Lee, Andreas S. Beutler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The development of a novel method for intrathecal drug administration in the pig. CT-anatomy demonstrates constraints underlying the failure of human LP techniques. A lateral lumbar puncture approach targets the lateral thecal recess. This new large animal model offers unique strengths when compared with its alternatives. Intrathecal (IT) administration is an important route of drug delivery, and its modelling in a large animal species is of critical value. Although domestic swine is the preferred species for preclinical pharmacology, no minimally invasive method has been established to deliver agents into the IT space. While a "blind" lumbar puncture (LP) can sample cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), it is unreliable for drug delivery in pigs. Using computed tomography (CT), we determined the underlying anatomical reasons for this irregularity. The pig spinal cord was visualised terminating at the S2-S3 level. The lumbar region contained only small amounts of CSF found in the lateral recess. Additional anatomical constraints included ossification of the midline ligaments, overlapping lamina with small interlaminar spaces, and a large bulk of epidural adipose tissue. Accommodating the the pig CT anatomy, we developed a lateral LP (LLP) injection technique that employs advanced planning of the needle path and monitoring of the IT injection progress. The key features of the LLP procedure involved choosing a vertebral level without overlapping lamina or spinal ligament ossification, a needle trajectory crossing the midline, and entering the IT space in its lateral recess. Effective IT delivery was validated by the injection of contrast media to obtain a CT myelogram. LLP represents a safe and reliable method to deliver agents to the lumbar pig IT space, which can be implemented in a straightforward way by any laboratory with access to CT equipment. Therefore, LLP is an attractive large animal model for preclinical studies of IT therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-15
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Methods
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Computed tomography
  • Intrathecal
  • Lumbar puncture
  • Pig
  • Swine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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