Spine Terminology

  1. Adolescent Scoliosis
    Three dimensional deformity of the spine appearing before the onset of puberty and before skeletal maturity.
  2. Adult Scoliosis
    Scoliosis existing after skeletal maturity.  It may be due to untreated adolescent scoliosis, degenerative disease, or other causes.
  3. Allogenic Blood
    Blood taken from another individual of the same species of a compatible blood type (A <-- A or O)
  4. Allograft
    Graft taken from a member of the same species.
  5. Angle of Trunk Inclination

    With trunk flexed 90° at the hips, the angle between the horizontal and the plane across the posterior spine at the greatest elevation of a rib prominence, as measure by an inclinometer (scoliometer).
  6. Ankylosing Spondylitis
    Rheumatoid arthritis of the spine.  An inflammatory disease of the spine which leads to bony ankylosis of the vertebral articulations.
  7. Annulus Fibrosis
    External part of the intervertebral disc consisting in a ring of fibro cartilaginous tissue that surrounds the nucleus pulposus.
  8. Anterior Longitudinal Ligament
    Begins at the anterior aspect of the base of the occipital bone and is attached to the atlas and anterior surface of all vertebrae including part of the sacrum.
  9. Anterior Spinal Artery
    A single, unpaired artery that supplies blood to the spinal cord, its membrane and adjacent structures, and is formed by the branch of the vertebral artery on each side and descends in the anterior median fissure of the spinal cord.
  10. Apical Disc
    The disc most deviated from the vertical axis of the patient.
  11. Apical Vertebra
    The vertebra most deviated from the vertical axis of the patient.
  12. Arachnoid
    One of the three membranes surrounding the brain, spinal cord, and nerve roots.
  13. Arachnoiditis
    Disease occurring when the membrane that is in direct contact with the spinal fluid becomes inflamed.  This inflammation causes pain by pressing on the nerves.
  14. Arthrodesis
    The fusion of bones across a joint space, thereby limiting or eliminating motion from the joint.  It may occur spontaneously or as a result of a surgical procedure such as fusion of the spine.
  15. Articular Process
    Either of two processes on each side of a vertebra that articulates with adjoining vertebrae.
  16. Atlas
    First cervical vertebra.
  17. Atraumatic
    Not Traumatic
  18. Autograft
    Any tissue removed from one place in the body and transferred to another site in the same individual.
  19. Autologous blood
    Patient's own blood or blood components
  20. Autotransfusion
    Collection, processing, and reinfusion of one's own blood (lost due to trauma or surgical procedure)
  21. Axis
    Second cervical vertebra
  22. Biocompatibility
    Characteristics of some materials.
  23. Bone graft
    Bone transplantation
  24. Bone Marrow
    Soft, sponge-like substance found within the internal cavities of bone; major function is to produce red blood cells.
  25. Bone Plate
    Thin metal device screwed into bones that is used to stabilize bones or other medical devices to bones during the healing process.
  26. Brachial Plexus
    A complete network of nerves that is formed chiefly by the lower four cervical nerves and the first thoracic nerve, and supplies nerves to the chest, shoulder, and arm.
  27. Brown-Sequard's Syndrome
    A syndrome caused by damage to one half of the spinal cord that results in partial paralysis on the damaged side and loss of pain and temperature sensation on the other.
  28. Cage
    Piece of medical equipment used to fill the disc space left after a disc has been removed
  29. Calcification
    Accumulation of calcium salts into tissue.
  30. Cancellous Bone
    Type of bone with porous structure made up of intersecting plates and bars (lattice-like structure) that form small cavities or cells. Soft, spongy bone.
  31. Capsule
    The ligament which surrounds a movable joint.
  32. Cartilage
    Fibrous connective tissue that covers the end of the bone at a joint; this tissue reduces the amount of friction resulting from movement.
  33. Cauda Equina
    The roots of the upper sacral nerves that extend beyond the termination of the spinal cord of the first lumbar vertebra in the form of a bundle of filaments within the spinal canal, resembling a horse's tail.
  34. Caudad
    Toward the tail.
  35. Cephalad
    Towards the head.
  36. Cervical plexus
    A plexus formed by the anterior division of the four upper cervical nerves.
  37. Cervical scoliosis
    Scoliosis having its apex at C1 to the C6-C7 disc.
  38. Cervical spine
    Portion of the vertebral column contained in the neck, consisting of seven cervical vertebrae between the skull and the rib cage.
  39. Cervical spondylosis
    Degenerative disease of both the disc and the zygapophyseal joints occurring in the cervical spine.
  40. Cervical-Thoracic scoliosis
    Scoliosis having its apex at C7, T1 or the intervening disc space.
  41. Chronic pain
    Pain which lasts a long time (6mo +) and is not relieved by standard medical management.
  42. Chronological definition of idiopathic scoliosis presentations
    • Infantile scoliosis - birth through 2
    • Juvenile scoliosis - 3 through 10
    • Adolescent scoliosis - 11 through 17
    • Adult scoliosis - 18+
  43. Coccyx
    "Tail bone"; caudal most portion of the vertebral column beyond the sacrum
  44. Compensatory curve
    In spinal deformity, a secondary curve located above or below the structural curvature, which develops in order to maintain normal body alignment.
  45. Compression fractures due to osteoporosis
    Loss of bone density makes bones fragile and more likely to break or fracture.  Compression fractures in the spine can cause severe back pain.
  46. Concave
    depressed or cave-like surface
  47. Congenital
    Existing at or dating from birth.
  48. Congenital scoliosis
    Scoliosis due to bony abnormalities of the spine present at birth.  These anomalies are classified as failure of vertebral formation and/or failure of segmentation.
  49. Contraindication
    Conditions under which a device should not be used because the risks associated with the use of the device are greater than the benefits.
  50. Conus Medullaris
    A tapering lower part of the spinal cord at the level of the first.
  51. Convex
    A rounded or elevated surface.
  52. Cortical bone
    The dense outer layer of bone.
  53. Decompensation
    In scoliosis, this refers to loss of spinal balance when the thoracic cage is not centered over the pelvis.
  54. Decortication
    Removal of external or surface layer of bone to make it bleed.
  55. Degenerative disc disease
    Disorder in which disc degeneration produces clinical symptoms and signs.
  56. Dehiscence
    A disruption or separation of the ring from the annulus.
  57. Dens
    Odontoid Process: tooth like process that projects from the anterior end of the centrum of the axis (C2)
  58. Odontoid Process
    Dens: tooth like process that projects from the anterior end of the centrum of the axis (C2)
  59. Dessicating
    dehydrating (removal of moisture)
  60. Diathesis
    A predisposition or unusual susceptibility to a disease
  61. Diathermy
    Therapy in which high-frequency currents produce heat in tissues to treat certain conditions.
  62. Disc
    Soft tissue acting as a shock-absorber between the intervertebral bodies.
  63. Discectomy
    Removal of all or part of an intervertebral disc (the soft tissue that acts as a shock absorber between the vertebral bodies)
  64. Disc Degeneration
    Loss of the structural and functional integrity of the disc.
  65. Discitis
    Inflammatory disorder of the intervertebral disc
  66. Distal
    Remote; far away from the midline of the body
  67. Double Curve
    Two lateral curvatures (scoliosis) in the same spine. Double major curve describes a scoliosis in which there are two structural curves which are usually of equal size. Double thoracic curve: a scoliosis with a structural upper thoracic curve, as well as a larger, more deforming lower throacic curve, and a relatively nonstructural lumbar curve.
  68. Double major scoliosis
    Scoliosis with two structural curves
  69. Double thoracic curve (scoliosis)
    Scoliosis with a structural upper thoracic curve, a larger, more deforming lower thoracic and relatively non-structural lumbar curve.
  70. Ductility
    Property of a material to absorb relatively large amount of plastic deformation energy before failure.  Opposite of brittleness.
  71. Dura Mater
    Tough outer membrane of spinal cord.
  72. Dynamic Load
    A load applied to a specimen that varies with time.
  73. Elasticity
    Property of a material or a structure to return to its original form following the removal of the deforming load.
  74. End Vertebra
    The most cephalad vertebra of a curve whose superior surface or transverse axis, and the most caudal vertebra whose inferior surface or transverse axis, tilts maximally toward the concavity of the curve.
  75. Epidural
    Superficial to the dura mater.
  76. Erector Spinae
    A muscle group that extends the length of the back and neck, arising from the iliac crest, sacrum, lumbar, and two lower thoracic vertebrae, and splits in the upper lumbar region into three divisions.
  77. Essential tremor
    Essential tremor belongs to a group of conditions called "movement disorders" and is the most common disorder in this group.  Essential tremor patients have no symptoms other than tremor (rhythmic, shaking movement produced by muscle contractions in hands, head, legs, trunk, or voice).  Essential tremor is a progressive disease and tends be hereditary.  Many physicians identify abnormal activity of brain cells as the suspected mechanism of tremor.
  78. Etiology
    Cause of a disease
  79. Evert
    To turn outward or inside out; externally rotate
  80. Extradural
    On the outer side of the dura mater.
  81. Facet
    Contact point between adjacent vertebrae; joint of the spine; includes joint capsule, synovial fluid, cartilage, and bony interface of adjacent vertebrae
  82. Facetectomy
    Excision (removal) of facet
  83. Failed back syndrome
    This condition refers to patients who have undergone one or more surgical procedures and continue to experience pain.  Some common diagnoses included in this condition are recurring disc herniation, epidural scarring, or an injured nerve root.  Failed back syndrome may be successfully treated with APT neurostimulation, or APT intrathecal.
  84. Fascia
    Fibrous tissue enclosing muscle
  85. Fatigue
    process of birth and growth of cracks in structures subjected to repetitive load
  86. Fibrosis
    formation of fibrous tissue
  87. Fissure
    Natural cleft, groove, or tear between or within body parts or organs.
  88. Fixation
    Tissue preservation through the use of chemicals or process; Can also refer to immobilization or attachment
  89. Flow Assessment
    Evaluation of the amount of blood flowing through the completed bypass graft
  90. Foramen
    Natural opening or passage into or through a bone
  91. Foraminectomy
    Removal of bone to enlarge a foramen, typically to relieve nerve root compression
  92. Force
    Any action that changes the state of rest or motion of an object.  Magnitude measured in Newtons;  Also an energy field, created by and binding all living things in the galaxy, that can be manipulated by unique individuals who can "Use the Force".
  93. French Scale
    Unit of measure for diameter of needles or catheters.  1F = 0.33mm

    e.g. 18F = 6mm
  94. Fusion
    Immobilization of two or more vertebrae by binding them to each other (cage, plate, screws/rods, etc)
  95. Genetic scoliosis
    Structural spinal curvature inherited according to a genetic pattern
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Spine Terminology