A procedure for implanting a spinal chamber for longitudinal in vivo imaging of the mouse spinal cord

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© 2014, Journal of Visualized Experiments. All Rights Reserved. Studies in the mammalian neocortex have enabled unprecedented resolution of cortical structure, activity, and response to neurodegenerative insults by repeated, time-lapse in vivo imaging in live rodents. These studies were made possible by straightforward surgical procedures, which enabled optical access for a prolonged period of time without repeat surgical procedures. In contrast, analogous studies of the spinal cord have been previously limited to only a few imaging sessions, each of which required an invasive surgery. As previously described, we have developed a spinal chamber that enables continuous optical access for upwards of 8 weeks, preserves mechanical stability of the spinal column, is easily stabilized externally during imaging, and requires only a single surgery. Here, the design of the spinal chamber with its associated surgical implements is reviewed and the surgical procedure is demonstrated in detail. Briefly, this video will demonstrate the preparation of the surgical area and mouse for surgery, exposure of the spinal vertebra and appropriate tissue debridement, the delivery of the implant and vertebral clamping, the completion of the chamber, the removal of the delivery system, sealing of the skin, and finally, post-operative care. The procedure for chronic in vivo imaging using nonlinear microscopy will also be demonstrated. Finally, outcomes, limitations, typical variability, and a guide for troubleshooting are discussed.


Farrar, M. J., & Schaffer, C. B. (2014). A procedure for implanting a spinal chamber for longitudinal in vivo imaging of the mouse spinal cord. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 94, 52196. https://doi.org/10.3791/52196

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