Percutaneous Endoscopic Cellular Transplantation into the Lower Lumbar Spinal Cord

Carlos E. Casas, James D. Guest, Edward C. Benzel, Mark N. Hadley, Donald W. Marion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To explore the feasibility of performing percutaneous endoscopic cellular transplantation into the lumbar spinal cord of pigs to create intramedullary cellular trails. METHODS: The lumbar subarachnoid space was accessed using a 10-gauge needle inserted between L5 and L6. A 12.5-French flexible introducer sheath was fed over the needle into the subarachnoid space. A 3.2-mm-diameter flexible, steerable endoscope was then directed intradurally through the sheath. The thecal space was distended by saline infusion. A microcatheter with an attached needle then was advanced through the working channel into the dorsal surface of the lumbar spinal cord. Five microliters of Hoechst-labeled fibroblasts were injected while the catheter was withdrawn slowly to create a trail of cells within the spinal cord. The spinal canal then was perfused with fixative. The injected spinal cord segment was removed and studied histologically. Endoscopic video was analyzed offline. RESULTS: The endoscope could be navigated under visual guidance. The sacral and lumbar rootlets, the spinal cord, and associated vessels were visualized. In fixed sagittal sections, a linear trail of fluorescent fibroblasts could be seen within the lumbar spinal cord in each specimen. CONCLUSION: Percutaneous endoscopic cellular injection may be useful for cellular transplantation, may reduce surgical and anesthetic time, may be compatible with local anesthesia, may eliminate the need to disrupt spinal instrumentation and bone grafts, and may allow greater flexibility in the respective timing of spinal fixation and cellular transplantation after spinal cord injury. This is the first report of the use of endoscopic intraspinal cellular transplantation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)950-955
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2004


  • Cell transplantation
  • Endoscopy
  • Lumbar spine
  • Spinal cord

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery


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