The mechanical properties of the spinal cord: a protocol for a systematic review of previous testing procedures and results

Megan Stanners, Marguerite O'Riordan, Laura Hartley, Eirini Theodosiou, Jean-Baptiste Souppez, Adrian Gardner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Spinal cord compression is a pathology seen in routine clinical practice. However, there remain a number of unanswered questions around both the understanding of the pathogenesis and the best method of treatment of the condition. This is partly due to the issues of the real-life testing of the physical properties of the spinal cord, either through the use of cadaveric human specimens or through animal testing, both of which have methodological, as well as ethical, issues.

DESIGN AND METHODS: This paper details a protocol for a systematic review of the literature on the mechanical properties of the spinal cord. We will conduct a literature search of a number of electronic databases, along with the grey literature, as a single-stage search. All literature will be screened for appropriate studies which will then be reviewed fully to extract relevant information on the methodology and mechanics of the reported testing along with the results. Two reviewers will separately screen and extract the data, with a comparison of results to ensure concordance. Conflicts will be resolved through discussion and independent arbitration as required. The methodological quality of the studies will be assessed within the ARRIVE guidelines using the CAMARADES framework and SYRCLE risk of bias tool. A narrative synthesis will be created with the appropriate tables to describe the demographics and findings of the included studies.

DISCUSSION: The systematic review described here will form the basis of an understanding of the current literature around the physical properties of the spinal cord. This will allow future work to develop a physical model of the spinal cord, which is translatable to patients for analysis and testing in a controlled and repeatable fashion. Such a model would be the basis for further clinical research to improve outcomes from this condition.

Original languageEnglish
Article number56
Number of pages6
JournalSystematic Reviews
Issue number1
Early online date7 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2024

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s), 2024. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the
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other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. To view a copy of this licence, visit The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.

Data Access Statement

The datasets used and/or analyzed in this review are available from the subsequent author on reasonable request.


  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Spinal Cord
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic


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