Achondroplastic Stenosis – Increase in vertebral thickening; a shortening of the pedicles.
Activities of Daily Living (ADL) – Activities of Daily Living (ADL) are those activities that people may engage in during the course of their daily lives, including lifting, bending, walking, sitting, standing, reaching, climbing, running, etc.
Acute – An illness that develops quickly, is intense or severe, and whose duration lasts a relatively short period of time.
Adolescent Scoliosis – A lateral curvature of the spine that develops during adolescence.
Adult Scoliosis – A lateral curve or scoliosis that develops post adolescence.
Anaesthesia – Temporary loss of consciousness or sensation in a body part due to anesthetic drugs.
Anaesthetist – Physician who has specialised in anaesthetics and pain management.
Analgesia – Loss of pain sensation.
Anterior – The front.
Anterior Approach – Used when approaching the spine from the front of the body.
Anterior Cervical Decompression Fusion – An operation on the upper spine to decompress nerve roots and fuse the unstable vertebral segments.
Anterior Cervical Discectomy – An operation that is approached from the front of the neck that involves removing herniated disc material.
Anterior Displacement – Forward movement of a vertebral segment.
Anterior Interbody Fusion (AIF) – A surgical procedure which involves the replacement of some or all of the disc with a bony graft through an anterior approach. This technique is used commonly in the cervical spine to treat degenerative disc disease and HNP (herniated nucleus pulposus). This technique is also used in the lumbar spine to accomplish a fusion in many situations.
Anterior Lateral – From the front and to the side.
Anterior Lateral Approach – An operative approach through rib resection on the side of the body.
Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) – A lumbar spinal fusion that is approached from the front.
Anterolateral – Situated or occurring in front of and to the side.
Anti-coagulant – Is a medication that thins the blood to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis.
Arthralgia – Joint pain.
Arthritis – A disorder that causes inflammation and pain of the joints. It is characterized by swelling, pain, and restriction of movements at the joint.
Arthrodesis – The fusion of bones across a joint space, thereby limiting or eliminating movement. It may occur spontaneously or as a result of a surgical procedure, such as fusion of the spine.
Arthroplasty (disc replacement) – The surgical remodeling of a diseased or damaged joint.
Arthroscope – An instrument inserted into a joint cavity to view the interior of a joint and correct certain abnormalities. An arthroscope is an endoscope for use in a joint.
Arthroscopic Microdiscectomy (AMD) – Minimally invasive method of discectomy.
Arthroscopy – The procedure of visualizing the inside of a joint by means of an arthroscope.
Articular – Pertaining to movement of a joint.
Artificial Disc Replacement (ADR) – A new surgical procedure that will replace diseased or dysfunctional discs with artificial discs. There are multiple designs of artificial discs under development at this time.
Atlas – The first cervical vertebral.
Atrophy – Is the wasting away of body tissue.
Automated Percutaneous Lumbar Discectomy (APLD) – The removal of bulging disc material percutaneously (passage through skin, tissue, membrane) through a large-bore needle inserted into the disc space.
Avascular – No blood vessels situated within the structure.
Axis – The second cervical vertebrae on which the first vertebrae rotates giving the head movement.
Back Ache – Any non specific pain in the back – usually in the lower part.
Back School – A class or course in body mechanics, proper lifting techniques and back care aimed at prevention of back pain.
Backbone – Vertebral column or spine.
Benign – Is not considered to be cancerous – does not generally spread to other parts of the body.
Bone Graft – Bone that is taken from one area of an individual and inserted into a different area of the body in the same individual.
Bone Harvesting – The removal of bone from one site in the body to another.
Bone Marrow – The tissue contained within the internal cavities of the bones. A major function of this tissue is to produce red blood cells.
Bone Plate – Usually made from metal or titanium, used in conjunction with bone screws for the fixation of bone.
Bone Plate – Usually a relatively thin metal device which is affixed to bone via screws. bone plates are used to immobilize bones or bone fragments such that healing can occur.
Bone Screws – Screws used to immobilize, for bone fixation or plate fixation.
Bone – The hard tissue that provides structural support to the body. It is primarily composed of hydroxyapatite crystals and collagen. Individual bones may be classed as long, short, or flat.
Bovine Bone Graft – Is a bone graft from bovines or cows.
Brace – Used to aid in support or immobilization of the back.
Cancellous Bone – The honeycomb-like structure of the middle region of long bones.
Carotid Artery – Is a large vessel found on either side of the neck that branches into the external and internal Carotid Arteries. The carotid supplies a large amount of blood to the brain.
Cartilage – The hard, thin layer of white glossy tissue that covers the end of bone at a joint. This tissue allows motion to take place with a minimum amount of friction.
Cauda Equina – Is a bundle of nerve roots in the end of the spinal cord which combine to form large nerves for the lower body.
Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES) – Loss of bowel and bladder control (incontinence) and numbness in the groin and saddle area of the pelvis, associated with weakness of the lower extremities. This condition can be caused by abnormal pressure on the bottom-most portion of the spinal canal and spinal nerve roots, related to either bony stenosis or a large herniated disc.
C-collar – Neck brace.
Centrum – The body of a Vertebra.
Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) – A clear fluid that baths the brain and spinal cord and acts as a shock absorber.
Cervical – Related to the region of the neck.
Cervical Collar – A supportive band worn round the neck following injury or surgery to the cervical region.
Cervical Decompression – Where the cervical nerve roots are freed or decompressed.
Cervical Fusion – Where a determinate number of cervical vertebrae are fixated using bone screws, cages and bone plates.
Cervical Plexus – A number of nerves that supply the neck muscles.
Cervical – The neck region of the spine containing the first seven vertebrae.
Chemonucleolysis – Injection of chymopapain (papaya-based or other enzyme) into a herniated disc to reduce pressure.
Chronic – Persistent or lasting a long time, and in the case of back pain, referring to conditions lasting longer than three months.
Claudication – Intermittent limping due to pinching on the nerves in the lumbar spine and not enough blood supply to nerves or muscles.
CNS – Central nervous system.
Coagulation – Process of blood clotting.
Cobb Angle Measurement – Calculated by selecting the upper and lower end Vertebrae in a curve. Erecting perpendiculars to their transverse axes. At their point of intersection, the angle is measured to indicate the curve’s angle, such as in cases of Scoliosis.
Cobult-Chrome – Otherwise known as cobult-chromium-molybdenum. This is a mixture of metals used in many surgical implants.
Coccyx – The coccyx is a fusion of the last 4 vertebrae of the spinal column into 1 small bony structure.
Collagen – A fibrous protein which is a major constituent of connective tissue, such as skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bones.
Comminuted Fracture – A fracture in which a bone is broken into more than two pieces. Often internal or external fixation devices are used to maintain proper alignment of the fragments.
Compensatory Curve – A curve above or below a primary scoliosis curve. This type of curve helps the body to remain stable.
Compression – The act of pressing together; refers to the loss of vertebral body height either anteriorly, posteriorly or both.
Computer Tomography (CT) – A scanning process whereby a three dimensional image of soft tissue or bone is created.
Congenital Scoliosis – Scoliosis that is caused by genetic disposition to a Vertebral alignment abnormality.
Congenital – Present at and existing from the time of birth.
Contrast Medium – Usually a radio opaque fluid, used to define a structure during a radiologic examination or procedure.
Coronal – Refers to a section that divides the body into anterior and posterior portions.
Cortical Bone – The hard outer layer of the bone.
Corticosteroids – Medications administered either orally or by injection for severe pain in the low back, neck, or radiating pain. Useful for their powerful anti-inflammatory effect. Corticosteroids of different types are used frequently in medicine to treat a variety of conditions thought to be caused by inflammation.
Cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) Inhibitor – A class of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medication that works by blocking the enzyme COX-2, preventing pain and swelling associated with arthritis.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) – Fluid filling the dural sac and providing nourishment to the neural elements in the spinal canal and brain cavities.
C-spine – Cervical Spine (neck).
Computerized Tomography (CT) – A diagnostic imaging test. In CT scanning, X-rays are employed to generate cross sectional images. The high resolution CT scan provides excellent viewing of bones and bone spaces. CT scanning does not image soft tissues as well. Also known as a CAT scan.
Cytology – Is the study of cells.
Demineralized Bone Matrix (DBM) – Material that enhances bone growth.
DC – Doctor of Chiropractic.
Degenerative Disc Disease – Gradual or rapid loss of the structural and functional integrity of the intervertebral disease.
Degenerative Stenosis – Gradual hypertrophy of bone or cartilage leading to a narrowing of vertebral margins, facet joints or vertebral canal.
Demineralized Bone – Bone that has been depleted of minerals for example osteoporotic bone having lost calcium.
Dermatome – Refers to the distribution of sensory nerves near the skin that are responsible for pain, pins and needles or numbness. In relation to the spine the dermatome corresponds to the effected vertebral level.
Disc (Intervertebral) – The tough, elastic structure that is between the bodies of spinal vertebrae. The disc consists of an outer annulus fibrosus enclosing an inner nucleus pulposus.
Disc Degeneration – The loss of the structural and functional integrity of the disc. This disorder is often called Degenerative Disc Disease.
Disc – The intervertebral disc is a combination of strong connective tissues which hold one vertebra to the next, and acts as a cushion between the vertebrae. It is made of a tough outer layer called the “annulus fibrosus” and a gel-like center called the “nucleus pulposus”.
Discectomy – Surgical procedure in which part of a herniated disc is removed. The goal of the surgery is to make the herniated disc stop pressing on and irritating the nerves which cause pain and weakness. These procedures may be done as an open procedure, with a microscope or via a minimally invasive method.
Discitis – Inflammation of the disc.
Discogram – A radiographic representation of the intervertebral disc by injecting dye into the nucleus pulposus.
Discography – Discography involves the injection of dye into the nucleus of an interVertebral disc. During the injection, the physician performing the procedure asks the patient if the injection generates pain similar to his/her “usual pain”. Discographic images are generated from plain Radiographs and Computed Tomography (CT) scanning.
Distal – Situated away from the center of the body.
Distraction – Space between fracture fragments or vertebral segments due to interposed tissue or, most often, axial forces. Distraction may also be part of a surgical procedure wherein spinal structures are separated, lengthened or shortened.
DJD – Degenerative Joint Disease.
DO – Doctor of Osteopathy.
DRG – Dorsal Root Ganglion. Clump of nerve cells in spinal canal outlet of a root.
Dx – Diagnosis.
Dysesthesia – A condition in which an unpleasant sensation is produced by ordinary touch, temperature or movement.
Dysplastic – Congenital abnormal
Edema – A collection of fluid (swelling) usually extra cellular.
Electromyography (EMG) – A test used to determine the function of the peripheral nerves and nerve roots, involving placement of tiny needles in muscles and an electrical stimulus that can be monitored for changes that reflect the function of the connection between the nerve and muscle. This test is usually performed in conjunction with a nerve conduction velocity study (NCV).
Electroencephalopgrahy (EEG) – Is the study of the electric activity in the brain.
End Vertebra – (1) The most cephalad (i.e., toward the head) Vertebra of a curve, whose superior surface tilts maximally toward the concavity of the curve. (2) The most caudad (i.e., toward the coccyx) Vertebra whose inferior surface tilts maximally toward the concavity of the curve.
Endogenous – Derived from one’s own body.
Endoscope – A medical instrument for viewing internal portions of the body. An endoscope is a tubular device and camera to enable visualization of the patient’s anatomy on a monitor.
Endoscopic Discectomy – A minimally-invasive method of discectomy done with an endoscope, which is a special device that allows visualization of the disc from the inside. See Discectomy.
Endoscopy – Inspection of internal body structures or cavities using an endoscope.
Epidural – Is a space directly outside the dura mata. It is referred to as extra dural.
Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI) – Injection of corticosteroid medications into the epidural space (the area around the spinal nerves) to reduce inflammation of the nerve and disc.
Esophagus – The long tube that takes food from the mouth to the stomach.
Excision – Is the removal of tissue; to excise.
Exogenous – Originating outside the body.
Extrusion – Displaced disc material that has herniated out to the spinal canal but remains connected to the central disc.
Facet Injection – Injections of steroids and local anesthetic into the facet joints to determine if it is a source of pain or to reduce pain and inflammation. See also Zygapophysial Joint Injections.
Facet Joints – The bones of the spine are connected in the front of the spine by intervertebral discs and in the back by paired joints. These paired joints are commonly called “Facet Joints”, “Zygapophysial Joints”, or, “Z-Joints”. See also Z-Joints.
Facet – A posterior structure of a vertebra which articulates with a facet of an adjacent vertebra to form a facet joint that allows motion in the spinal column. Each vertebra has two superior and two inferior facets.
Facetectomy – Excision (removal) of a facet.
Fatigue Fracture – A fracture that occurs in bone or in other materials, including metal, as a result of repeated stress as opposed to a single injury.
FDA – The Food and Drug Administration. U.S. government consumer protection agency that promotes and protects public health by regulating the distribution of drugs, medical devices and food.
Fibrosis – The replacement of normal tissue with scar tissue.
Fluoroscopic Guidance – Use of Radiologic Imaging to assist in the placement of instrumentation for invasive diagnostic and surgical procedures.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – Is an American agency that has regulatory authority over management and distribution of drugs, medical devices and food.
Foramen – A natural opening in the bone allowing for spinal nerve roots to pass from the spinal cord between the vertebrae.
Foraminotomy – Is a surgical opening or widening of the foramen.
Fracture – A disruption of the normal continuity of bone.
Functional Scoliosis – Structurally normal spine that appears to have a lateral curve (scoliosis).
Fusion – A surgical procedure performed to eliminate movement over painful or unstable spinal segments. Spinal fusion is often used to treat Degenerative Disc Disease but is also used to treat Scoliosis, Kyphosis, fractures and tumors. Bone is grafted across a section of the spine where it grows together fusing the area.
GI – Gastrointestinal.
Gibbus – A sharply angular Kyphosis.
Graft – Unattached tissue or bone for transplantation.
GU – Genito-urinary.
GYN – Gynecological.
Hemorrhage – Bleeding due to the escape of blood from the blood vessels.
Hemangioma – A benign tumor consisting of a mass of blood cells.
Hematoma – A collection of blood forming a clot.
Hematomyelia – An effusion of blood (hematoma) into the spinal cord.
Hematorrhachis – Spinal apoplexy or hemorrhage into the vertebral canal.
Hemi – One-sided.
Hemi Atrophy – Wasting of half an organ or body.
Hemi Laminectomy – The excision of only one side of the lamina relative to the spinous process.
Hemiplegia – Paralysis of one side of the body.
Hereditary – The passing on of traits to the offspring through genetic information.
Herniated Disc – Extrusion of part of the nucleus pulposus material through a defect in the Annulus Fibrosus.
Herniated Nucleus Pulposus (HNP) – See Herniated Disc
Herniation – Is a protrusion.
Herniation InterVertebral Disc (HID) – Outpouching of disc material into the vertebral canal.
Herniation of Nucleus Pulposus (HNP) – Extrusion of the inner nucleus pulposus through a defect in the outer layer called the Annulus Fibrosis.
Heterotopic Bone Formation – Bone growth in an abnormal location.
HHS – U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. United States government’s principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves.
HMO – Health maintenance organization.
Hook – For spinal applications, a metallic medical device used to connect spinal structures to a rod.
Hydroxyapatite (HA) – The lattice–like structure of bone composed of calcium and phosphorous crystals which deposits on collagen to provide the rigid structure of bone.
Hyoid Bone – Small bone lateral to the trachea, located at the level of the 3rd Cervical Vertebrae.
Hyper – Above normal, excessive.
Hyperesthesia – Excessive sensitivity to touch, or other stimuli.
Hyperextension – Extension of a limb or back beyond its normal limits (bending back).
Hyperflexion – Flexion of a limb or the back beyond its normal limits (bending forward).
Hyperlordosis – Increase in the normal anterior curve of the cervical and lumbar spine.
Hyperthermia – Increase in body temperature beyond normal limits.
Hypothermia – Decrease in body temperature beyond normal limits.
Iatrogenic – Occurring without known cause. Self–originated.
IDET – Intradiscal Electrothermal Therapy. A percutaneous procedure done on damaged discs to relieve pain by inserting a heated catheter into the damaged area.
Idiopathic – Is of unknown origin.
Idiopathic Scoliosis – Abnormal lateral curvature of unknown origin.
Iliac Bone – A part of the pelvic bone that is above the hip joint and from which autogenous bone grafts are frequently obtained.
Iliac Crest – The large prominent part of the pelvic bone from which bone graft is often taken for fusion.
Immobilization of the Back – Limitation or fixation of the back or part there of, usually to promote healing.
Immobilization – Limitation of motion or fixation of a body part usually to promote healing.
In vitro – Describing biological phenomena that are made to occur outside the living body (traditionally in a test tube). In vitro is Latin for in glass.
In vivo – Within a living body. In vivo is Latin for in life.
Infantile Scoliosis – Abnormal lateral curvature beginning before the age of 3 years.
Inferior – Situated below or directed downward.
Informed Consent – Documentation that states the patient has received sufficient information to have surgery; legal document.
Instability – When vertebrae move beyond their normal range of motion.
Instrumentation – The use of instruments such as metal screws and rods during a surgical procedure.
Interbody – Between the vertebral bodies of 2 adjacent vertebrae.
Interbody Fusion – Grafting bone in the space between discs for the purpose of fusing 2 vertebral segments.
Internal Fixation – The immobilization of bone fragments or joints with implants in order to promote healing or fusion. Internal Fixation utilizes spinal instrumentation.
Interspinous Ligament – Ligament between each of the spinous processes.
Interspinous Pseudarthrosis – Formation of false joints between 2 spinous processes.
InterVertebral Cage – A type of instrumentation used to promote fusion during surgery.
InterVertebral Disc Narrowing – The narrowing of space between 2 Vertebral bodies.
Ischemia – Inadequate circulation of blood to the brain.
Isthmic – A lesion in the Pars Interarticularis.
IV – Intravenous.
Joint – The junction of 2 or more bones that permits varying degrees of movement between the bones.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis – Generalized inflammatory joint disease in children.
Juvenile Scoliosis – Abnormal lateral curvature beginning between the age of 3 and 10 years.
Joint – The junction or articulation of 2 or more bones that permits varying degrees of motion between the bones.
Kyphoplasty – Procedure to repair osteoporosis fractures, where glue-like material is injected into a balloon inserted into a collapsed vertebra.
Kyphosis – A curve in the spine that points to the back of the body. A hunchback is one example of Kyphosis.
L# – The letter L followed by a number identifies a specific vertebra in the lumbar spine. For example, L3 is the 3rd vertebra in the lumbar spine. L3-4 would refer to the disc between the L3 and L4 vertebrae.
Lamina – An anatomical portion of a vertebra. For each vertebra, two lamina connect the pedicles to the spinous process as part of the neural arch.
Laminectomy – Surgical procedure removing the shingle-like portions of a vertebra to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and nerve roots (see anatomy section).
Laminotomy – Surgical procedure removing a small bony portion of shingle-like elements (lamina) that protect the neural canal to relieve pressure on the nerve roots.
Laser – Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The device that produces a focused beam of light at a defined wavelength that can vaporize tissue. In surgery, lasers can be used to operate on small areas without damaging delicate surrounding tissue.
Lateral – To the side away from the midline.
LBP – Low back pain.
Ligament – A band of fibrous, flexible connective tissue that is attached near the ends of a bone. It provides stability and limits some joint motion.
Ligamentum Flavum – A band of yellow elastic tissue that runs between the laminae of the 1st cervical vertebrae to the sacrum serving to close the spaces between the vertebral arches and giving stability to the vertebral column.
Lipoma – A benign fatty tumor.
Load Sharing – Structural support through grafts and/or implants.
Lordoscoliosis – Abnormal lateral curve associated with a backward spinal curve.
Lordosis – An abnormal increase in the normal lordotic curvature of the Lumbar Spine.
Lordosis – Curve in the spine that points to the front of the body.
Lumbar – The lumbar spine is situated between the thoracic spine and the sacrum.
Lumbar Curve – Is a lordotic curve from 1st and 5th vertebrae.
Lumbar Kyphosis – Is the reverse of the normal curve of the lower back.
Luxation – Dislocation
M & M – Morbidity and Mortality.
Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – A diagnostic test that produces a cross section of the body – defining structures within the brain and the spine.
Malignant – Cancerous; resistant to treatment.
Marginal Osteophytes – Excessive bone that forms at the margin of the vertebral body. See also Spondylosis.
MD – Medical Doctor.
Medial – Towards the middle or midline of the body.
Methylprednisolone – A drug (steroid) that lessens inflammation. Used to reduce inflammation of the joints or commonly used to lessen the damage of a spinal cord injury.
Microdiscectomy – A surgical procedure performed with a microscope, used to remove herniated disc material.
Minimally Invasive Surgery – Surgery that is conducted through a small incision.
MRI – Magnetic resonance imaging. A diagnostic imaging test. MRI clearly images soft tissues such as the interVertebral disc and neural structures as well as bones. A very sensitive and specific spinal imaging test.
Myelalgia – Pain from the spinal cord.
Myelapoplexy – Loss of nerve strength caused by a disorder of the spinal cord.
Myelatelia – Imperfect development of the spinal cord.
Myelitis – Spinal cord inflammation.
Myelopathy – Spinal cord disorder which commonly causes weakness in the lower extremities and spasticity in the upper extremities which may be the consequence of spinal stenosis, particularly in the cervical spine, or an injury to the spinal cord.
Mylogram – An X-ray of the spinal canal following an injection of a contrast into the CSF.