• Question: @how does the spine keep alive?

    Asked by kierend to Louise on 12 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Louise France

      Louise France answered on 12 Mar 2015:

      Hey Kierend

      Good Question! It’s easy to assume that whenever you remove something from the body that it will die…this is not always the case. It depends on the environment that you keep the tissue in as to how it responds.

      When I remove a spine from a sheep (gross, but also very cool) i only have a few hours to do so before it starts to die. Our bodies are really clever and keep our insides at 37 degrees celcius, so I need to put the tissue into an incubator (a bit like an oven) set to 37 degrees. Luckily the cells in the intervertebral discs respond really slowly so it takes them a while to notice that they are not in the body! So before they do realise that they are in the body I put them into a solution containing sugar and proteins, just like blood, and essentially trick them!

      Your spine is always loaded and there are always forces running through it, so its also really important that I make sure that the tissue is loaded. I do this by putting it in to a simulator that can squash and twist it, and replicate the same movements that you do with your spine.

      Hope this answers your question…let me know if you want to know anything else!!