Reliability of the rabbit postero-lateral spinal fusion model: A meta-analysis

Alexander M. Riordan, Rajesh Rangarajan, Joshua W. Balts, Wellington K. Hsu, Paul A. Anderson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The rabbit model of spinal fusion with the autogenous iliac crest bone graft (ICBG) control is widely used to evaluate bone graft substitutes and enhancers. This study examined the reliability of this model using meta-analysis. A systematic literature search from January 1995 to May 2011 identified 56 studies, involving 733 animals. The primary outcome was fusion success calculated as logit event rate. Study design, surgical technique, rabbit characteristics (gender, species, age, weight), and institution were analyzed. Overall fusion success was 52.4%. Important positive variables were time-point >4 weeks, ICBG dose >1 cm3, initial weight of animals ≥3 kg, level at L4-5 or L5-6, and age ≥6 months. Inter- and intra-institutional reliability was excellent. The rabbit model ICBG control group is reliable, although several factors can affect results. Fusion under normal handling occurs reliably in 5 weeks. The volume of bone graft should be >1 cm3 but no benefits are present with >2 cm3. The animals should weigh a minimum of 3 kg and be at least 6 months old.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1261-1269
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2013


  • autograft
  • fusion
  • lumbar
  • meta-analysis
  • rabbits
  • spinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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