Spine Glossary


Achondroplastic Stenosis – Escalation of vertebral clot or curbing of the pedicles.

Acute – Acute.

Adolescent Scoliosis – Lateral twisting of the spine which happens during adolescence.

Adult Scoliosis – Lateral scoliosis that develops after puberty.

Afferent Neuron – Impulse diffused to your central nervous system.

Allograft – Sterile bone graft used in spinal fusion and obtained from human sources or bone removed from one person and placed in another.

Analgesia – Loss of feeling pain.

Anaesthesia – Loss of consciousness because of anesthetic drugs or loss of feeling in the body.

Anaesthetist – Medical specialist in anesthetics and pain management.

Anisospondyly – Abnormally-shaped spinal bones.

Anterior – Front.

Anterior Approach –

Anterior Cervical Discectomy – Operation through the front of your neck to remove herniated disc.

Anterior Cervical Decompression Fusion – Operation in the upper spine to decompress nerve roots and join unbalanced vertebral segments.

Anterior Displacement – Forward movement of spine segment.

Anterior Lumbar Inter body Fusion (ALIF) – Lumbar spinal fusion approached from the front.

Anterior Lateral – From front to side.

Anterior Lateral Approach – Operative approach through rib resection of your body.

Anti-coagulant – Medicine that thins the blood to reduce danger of deep vein thrombosis.

Arachnoid – Middle layer cover for brain and spinal cord.

Arthralgia – Joint pain.

Arthritis – Joint inflammation of the joint with likely engorgement, pain and rigidity.

Arthrodesis – Fusion of bones across a joint space which happen unexpectedly or through surgical fusion.

Arthroplasty – Surgical remodeling of diseased joint.

Atlas – First cervical bone.

Atrophy – Waste away body tissue.

Autogenous Bone – Bone of individual.

Autologus – Bone graft from and for the same person.

Avascular – Absence of blood vessels within the structure.

Axis – Second cervical bone around which the first rotates enabling head movement.


Back Ache – Non-specific pain in the back’s lower part

Backbone – Spinal column or spine

Benign – Non- cancerous and does not spread to other body parts.

Bio Compatibility – Characteristic of some materials in which if implanted into a humanfails to generate considerable immune response

Biopsy – Small piece of tissue or bone taken for examination.

BMP – Bone protein

Bone – Hard calciferous material comprising the structural skeleton and provides a framework for muscles, ligament and tendons

Bone Derivative – Substance extracted from the bone.

Bone Graft Substitute – Material used instead of bone graft to enhance bone formation

Bone Graft – Bone taken from one area part and moved to another in the same individual

Bone Harvesting – Bone removed from one area the body and transferred to another

Bone Plate – Metal or titanium used in combination with bone screws to fix the bone

Bone Screws – Immobilization screws for bone or plate fixation

Bovine Bone Graft – Bone grafting in bovines or cows

Brace – Back support mechanism


Cancelous Bone – Honeycomb like structure in the middle area of long bones

Carotid Artery – Big vessel found on either side of the neck and branches into external and internal carotid arteries. The carotid supplies considerable amount of blood to the brain.

Cartilage – Thin layer of tissue that covers bone ends and encourages movement by decreasing friction in your joints

Cauda Equina – Bunch of nerve roots in the spinal cord which supplies lower limbs

Cauda Equina Syndrome – Multiple nerve root inflammation which causes loss of bladder and bowel functions.

Centrum – Body of the vertebrae

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF) – Clear fluid that baths the brain and spinal cord acting as shock absorber

Cervical – Neck region

Cervical Collar – Support band worn round the neck after injury or surgery in the cervical region

Cervical Plexus – Nerves supplying neck muscles

Cervical Decompression – This is where cervical nerve roots are decompressed

Cervical Fusion – Number of cervical bones which are fixed with the use of bone plates, screws and cages

Coagulation – Blood clotting

Cobalt – Chrome – Cobalt-chromium-molybdenum or blend of metals for surgical implants

Coccyx – Fusion of the last four bones of the spinal column into one small bony structure

Collagen – Protein that contributes to the enhancement of living tissues like skin, tendons, cartilage and bones

Compensatory Curve – Curve above or beneath the main scoliosis curve which helps the body to become stable

Compression – Squeeze or make something smaller like nerve root compression which causes pain

Computer Tomography (CT) – Scan process producing tri-dimensional image of soft tissue or bone

Congenital Scoliosis – Scoliosis caused by hereditary disposition and bone alignment abnormality

Contrast Medium – Radio opaque fluid to define a structure during radiologic tests

Cortical Bone – Bone’s hard outer layer

Cytology – Study of cells


Decompression – Operation to alleviate pressure on nerve roots and spinal column

Degenerative Disc Disease – Gradual or rapid loss of structural and functional integrity leading to inter-vertebral disease

Degenerative Stenosis – Gradual hypertrophy of bone or cartilage producing narrowing of bone margins, facet joints or vertebral canal

De-mineralized Bone – Bone drained of minerals

Dermatome – Distribution of sensory nerves near the skin responsible for pain or numbness. Disc – Disk-shaped specialized tissue that separates bones in the spinal column.

Discitis – Non-bacterial inflammation of inter-vertebral disc

Discogram – Radiographic representation of the inter-vertebral disc by injecting dye into the nucleus pulposus

Distal – Located away from the vertical dividing line of the body

Dysesthesia – Disagreeable sensation caused by ordinary touch, temperature or motion

Dysplastic – Congenital defect


Edema – Collection of fluid

Electroencephalopgrahy (EEG) – Study of electric activity in the brain

Endogenous – Derived from the body

Epidural – Space outside the Dura mater

Esophasus – Long tube that conveys food from the mouth to the abdomen

Excision – Tissue removal

Exogenous – Originates outside the body

Extrusion – Displaced disc material herniated to the spinal canal but remains connected to the central disc


Facet – Superior and inferior facet for each vertebrae which are flat surfaces making up a joint

Facet Arthropathy – Deterioration of facet joints

Facectomy – Excision of articular facets

Fibrosis – Replacement of normal with hardened scar tissue

Flattening of the Normal Lumbar Curve – Normal lumbar curve becomes shallow

Flexion – Bend forward

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – U.S. agency that regulates management and distribution of drugs, medical devices and food

Foramen – Natural opening in the bone allowing spinal nerve roots to pass from the spinal cord between the vertebrae

Foraminotomy – Surgical opening or widening of foramen

Fracture – Disruption of bone’s normal continuity

Functional Scoliosis – Normal spine that appears to be a lateral curve

Fusion – Union or healing of bones


Graft – Unattached tissue or bone for transplant


Hemangioma – Benign tumor consisting of a mass of blood cells

Hematoma – Collection of blood that forms a clot

Hematomyelia – Effusion of blood into the spinal column

Hematorrhachis – Spinal apoplexy or hemorrhage of vertebral canal

Hemi – One-sided

Hemi Atrophy – Wasting of body organ

Hemi Laminectomy – Excision of one side of the lamina relative to the spinal process

Hemiplegia – Paralysis of one part of your body

Haemorrhage – Bleeding in the blood vessel

Hereditary – Passing of traits to the offspring through genetic information

Herniation Intervertebral Disc (HID) – Out-pouching of disc material in vertebral canal

Herniation of Nucleus Pulposus (HNP) – Extrusion of inner nucleus pulposus because of abnormality in the outer layer described as annulus fibrosis

Herniation – Protrusion or Outcropping

Heterotopic Bone Formation – Bone growth in uncharacteristic area

Hydroxyapatite (HA) – Web-like bone structure made up of calcium and phosphorous crystals used in bone graft substitute

Hyoid Bone – Small bone on the side of the trachea and the level of third cervical vertebrae

Hyper – Beyond what is normal

Hyperesthesia – Extreme sensitivity to touch or other stimulus

Hyperextension – Extension of limb or bending backwards

Hyperflexion – Flexion of limb or bending forward

Hyperthermia – Abnormal increase in body temperature

Hyperlordosis – Growth of normal anterior curve in cervical and lumbar spine

Hypothermia – Abnormal decrease in body temperature


Idiopathic – Of unknown origin

Idiopathic Scoliosis – Irregular lateral curve of nameless origin

Iliac Crest – Prominent part of pelvic bone from which bone is grafted

Immobilization of the Back – Limitation or fixation of the back usually to promote healing

Infantile Scoliosis – Unusual twisting of the side which starts at three years old

Instrumentation – Use of instruments like metal screws and rods during surgery

Inter-body – Between two adjacent vertebrae

Interspinous Ligament – Ligament in the spinous processes

Interspinous Pseudarthrosis – Formation of false joints in the spinous processes

Intervertebral Disc Narrowing – Tapering of space between two vertebral bodies

Invivo – Inside a living body

Inferior – Located below or directed downward

Informed Consent – Documentation saying patient obtained sufficient information to undergo surgery

Ischemia – Insufficient circulation of blood in the brain.

Isthmic – Lesion in the pars interarticularis


Joint – Connection of two or more bones allowing varying degrees of movement between the bones

Juvenile Rheumatiod Arthritis – Inflammatory joint disease in children

Juvenile Scoliosis – Abnormal lateral curve which starts between three and 10 years


Kinetic – Motion or movement

Kyphosis – Abnormal increase in normal kyphotic curvature of the thoracic spine


Lamina – Flat portion of vertebral arch covering spinal cord and nerves
Laminectomy – Excision of vertebrae plate

Lateral – Away from the midline

Ligament – Fibrous connective tissue connected to the end of a bone which provides stability and limits joint movement

Ligamentum Flavum – Band of yellow elastic tissue between plates of first cervical vertebrae to the sacrum giving stability to the vertebral column

Lipoma – Benign fatty tumor

Lordoscoliosis – Irregular lateral curvature associated with back spinal curve

Lordosis – Normal forward curve in the neck and lower back

Lumbago – Non-medical term for lower lumbar back pain

Lumbar – It can be found between the thoracic spine and sacrum

Lumbar Curve – Curve from first to fifth vertebrae

Lumbar Kyphosis – Reverse of the lower back’s normal curve

Luxation – Dislocation


Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) – Diagnostic test to define structures within the brain and the spine

Malignant – Cancerous and resistant to treatment

Marginal Osteophytes – Excess bone that forms at the margin of the vertebral body

Medial – Towards the middle of the body

Minimally Invasive Surgery – Surgery done through a small incision

Myelalgia – Pain in the spinal cord

Myelapoplexy – Loss of nerve strength due to spinal cord malady

Myelatelia – Imperfect growth of spinal cord

Mylogram – X-ray of spinal canal following an injection


Nerve – White cord-like structure made up of a single or more bundles of myelinated or non myelinated fibers

Nerve Root – Edge of nerve close to the spinal cord

Neural Arch – Bony arch around spinal cord

Neuralgia – Pain in one or more nerves

Neurectomy – Excision in one art of the nerve

Neuritis – Nerve inflammation

Neurolysis – Excision of scar tissue within nerve or nerve root

Neuroma – A tumor made up of nerve fibers

Neuromuscular Scoliosis – Scoliosis caused by muscle disorder

Neuropathic Pain – Burning feeling caused by damage to the nerve tissue

Neuropathy – Functional disturbance of peripheral nervous system

Neuro stimulation – Surgical insertion of wired device to block pain signals to the brain that results in a tingling sensation

Neuro Surgery – Surgery associated with treatment of brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerve disorders.

Non Union – Failure of fracture to heal

Nucleus Pulposus – Gelatinous tissue in the middle of an inter-vertebral disc


Occiput – Base of the skull

Olisthy – Sliding of bone or bones from normal anatomical position.

Orthopedic – This involves the preservation and restoration of musculoskeletal system that includes treatment of spinal disorders and peripheral nerve injury

Osteoinductive – Material with capacity to induce bone growth

Ossification – Procedure of forming bone in the body

Osteomyelitis – Bone inflammation due to an infective methodology

Osteophyte – Bony overgrowth

Osteoporosis – Disorder where bone looses its density and becomes soft


Pain – Unpleasant sensation associated with actual or potential tissue damage

Paraplegia – Paralysis of lower extremities

Paravertebral Muscle Spasm – Spasm of the muscles that can cause intense pain

Pars Interarticulars – Superior and inferior facets joined to each other by the pars

Pathology – Study of diseases

Pedicle – Strongest part of neural arch that joins lamina to the vertebra

Physiotherapy – Exercising parts of the body to relearn movement, regain movement, or rehabilitate parts of the body

Piriformis Syndrome – Diagnosis based on pain in the buttocks leading down the back of the thigh

Platysma – Thin outermost muscle in the anterior neck

Plexus – Network of inter-joining nerves, blood vessels or lymphatic vessels

Posterior – Back of body structure

Posterior Fusion – Fusion in the cervical, thoracic, or lumbar regions approached from the back

Prosthesis – Surgical implants used in the body

Proximal – Nearest the body’s midline

Pseudoarthrosis – Form of non-union where fusion has formed a false joint


Quadriplegia – Paralysis of all limbs


Rachialgia – Pain in the vertebrae

Rachicentisis – Lumbar puncture for spinal fluid exams

Rachiocampsis – Spine curvature

Rachiopathy – Spine disease

Rachioscoliosis – Spine lateral curvature

Radiculopathy – Nerve roots syndrome near the spinal cord coming from direct pressure or swelling of the nerve root due to spinal joint ailment

Radiologist – Doctor with special training in the interpretation of X-ray, MRI and CT scan

Recombinant Human Protein – Proteins developed by isolating human protein and using recombinant DNA technology

Referred Pain – Pain felt far from its origin

Reflex – Involuntary reaction to stimuli

Retrolisthesis – Posterior displacement of vertebrae

Rhizolysis – Freeing of the bone nerve root


Sacral – It is among the lowest fused vertebral segments of the spinal column

Sagittal – Longitudinal

Sciatica – Pain that travels from the buttock down to the posterior thigh

Scoliosis – Lateral twisting of the spine

Spinal Canal – Bony canal made up of neural arch that encases the spinal cord

Spinal Cord – Longitudinal cord of nerves

Spinal Fusion – Surgical method to strengthen the spinal column

Spinal Stenosis – Narrowing of spinal canal leading to nerve root compression

Spine – Flexible column of 33 bones

Spinous Process – Part of the neural arch that protrudes and felt under the skin

Spondylarthritis – Spine Arthritis

Spondylitis – Vertebrae inflammation

Spondylolisthesis – Varying degrees of posterior or inferior vertebral displacement due to deterioration, genetics or trauma

Spondylolysis – Defect in the neural arch between the superior and inferior facets

Spondylopathy – Disorder affecting the spinal column

Spondylosis – Replacement of ligament around the disc space

Stenosis – Reduction in the diameter of the spinal canal or lateral foramen


Tendon – Fibrous band of tissue made of collagen that connects muscle to bone

Tension – Stretching or pulling tight

Thoracic – Region of the spine at the chest level

Thrombus – Blood clot in the wall of an artery

Tissue – Collection of similar type of cells

Titanium – Metallic element used in surgical implants

Toxicology – Study of the toxic or harmful effects of substances on the body

Traction – Pulling force on a limb or spinal column in a distal direction

Transitional Vertebrae – Vertebra with two elements

Transverse – Crosswise

Transverse Process – Bony process extending from the mid portion of the neural arch


Ultra Sound – Use of high frequency sound waves to create visuals of internal body structures

Uncovertebral – Pertaining to the processes of the vertebrae

Uni – One side

Union – Fusion of tissues separated by injury or knitting together of bone in a fusion

Ureter – Tube measuring 16 to 18 inches that connects kidneys to the bladder


Vagus Nerve – Is the 10th cranial nerve responsible for both sensory and motor function. Situated in the neck alongside the carotid artery

Vascular – Related to or containing blood vessels

Vasoconstriction – Decrease in the distance of blood vessels

Vasodilatation – Increase in the measurement of blood vessels

Vasospasm – Spasm of the blood vessel causing vasoconstriction

Vertebra – One of 33 bones that make up the spinal column protecting the spinal cord and gives the body stability

Vertebral Body – Main rectangular portion of the vertebra


Whiplash – Common term in describing hyperextension and hyper flexion of the neck

Wire – Metal thread available in various diameters to aid in fixation of fractures and fusion surgery


Xenograft – Graft derived from one species for the use of another species

X-Ray – Ionizing electromagnetic radiation emitted from a tube towards the target anode

Xylocaine – Local anesthetic


Z Plasty – Repair of skin defect using two triangular flaps