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Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion – a way to do spinal fusion from an anterior approach.
Allograft Bone
Sterile bone derived from another human which is used for grafting procedures
Complete fusing together of the vertebrae
Annulus Fibrosus
The outer, fibrous, ring–like portion of an intervertebral disc
The front portion of the body. It is often used to indicate the position of one structure relative to another.
Anterior Longitudinal Ligament
A thick ligament that covers the anterior part of the vertebral body
Apical Vertebra
The most rotated vertebra in a curve; the most deviated vertebra from the patient's vertical axis.
Inflammation of a joint usually characterized by swelling, pain, and restriction of motion.
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.
Any disease or disorder involving a joint
the surgical remodeling of a diseased or damaged joint
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.
The procedure of visualizing the inside of a joint by means of an arthroscope
Pertaining to a joint
Autogenous Bone
Bone originating from the same individual; i.e. an individual's own bone.
Autograft Bone
Bone transplanted from one part to another part of the body in the same individual

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BMP – Bone morphogenetic protein
A genetically engineered bone substitute (protein) that helps your bone fuse, used in surgery in addition to or instead of your own 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.
Bone Graft
Bone, which is harvested from one location in an individual and placed in another individual (allograft bone) or in a different location in the same individual (autogenous bone)
Bone Marrow
The tissue contained within the internal cavities of the bones. A major function of this tissue is to produce red blood cells.

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Cancellous Bone
The spongy or honeycomb structure of some bone tissue typically found at the ends of long bones
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
Refers to the nerve roots in the lumbar and sacral spine that extend beyond the termination of the spinal cord. The nerve roots are a bundle of filaments within the vertebral canal resembling a horse's tail, hence the Latin name.
Cervical Spine
Seven spinal segments (C1-C7) between the base of the skull (occiput) and the thoracic spine, also known as the neck
A treatment of an intervertebral disc that consists of an injection of chymopapain, a drug that dissolves part of the disc
Cobb Angle Measurement
A calculated angle measured on x-rays used in scoliosis measurements.
The region of the spine below the sacrum, also known as the tailbone
Compensatory Curve
A spinal curve, which can be structural, above or below a major scoliosis curve that tends to maintain normal body alignment
The act of pressing together – refers to the loss of vertebral body height either anteriorly, posteriorly or both
Present at and existing from the time of birth
Conus Medullaris
The tapered, lower end of the spinal cord. It occurs near lumbar vertebral levels L1-L2. The upper end of the conus medullaris is usually not well defined. Latin for "medullary cone".
Refers to a section that divides the body into anterior and posterior portions
The surgical removal of all or part of the vertebral body
Cortical Bone
Bone tissue which has been depleted of its minerals; e.g. calcium and phosphorous

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A spinal procedure done to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots. The pressure may result from fracture fragments, disc fragments, bone spurs, tumors or infections.
Decompression Laminectomy
A posterior approach decompression done by removing the lamina and spinous process of the vertebral segment
Disc Degeneration
The loss of the fluid content, structure and functional integrity of the disc
A spinal procedure to remove intervertebral disc material that may be described as herniated, bulging, ruptured, or extruded
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.
Situated away from or farther from a point of reference; opposite of proximal
Direct Lateral Interbody Fusion – a way to do spinal fusion from a lateral approach
The thick outer covering of the spinal cord

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Arising within or derived from the body
Naturally occurring morphine-like substances that the body produces in response to pain.
End Vertebra
i. The most cephalad (i.e. toward the head) vertebra of a curve, whose superior surface tilts maximally toward the concavity of the curve. ii. The most caudad (i.e. toward the coccyx) vertebra whose inferior surface tilts maximally toward the concavity of the curve.
Situated outside the thin, tough dural membrane that surrounds the brain and spinal cord

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A posterior structure of a vertebra which articulates with a facet of an adjacent vertebra to form a facet joint. This joint allows motion in the spinal column. Each vertebra has two superior and two inferior facets.
Flatback Syndrome
Also known as Fixed Sagittal Imbalance Syndrome – A forward posture usually due to a flattened lumbar spine from postoperative or degenerative changes. When viewed from the side, the patient’s head may be several centimeters in front of their hips.
An opening between two vertebrae allowing for the emerging of spinal nerve roots to exit
A procedure carried out in conjunction with disc surgery. The foramen (openings for the individual nerve roots to pass from the spine) may become narrowed because of disc impingement, intervertebral collapse, and spondylolisthesis. The surgical widening of the foramen is an attempt to relieve the pressure on the nerve roots.
The uniting of two bony segments to prevent motion

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Gardner-Wells Tongs
A device used to position the head or apply traction to the neck during surgery. The tongs are attached to your skull with a screw above each ear after you are asleep in surgery.
A sharply angular kyphosis

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A congenital abnormality of a vertebral body. Usually a wedge shape which causes scoliosis or kyphosis.
Herniated Disc
Extrusion of part of the disc. Nucleus pulposus material exits through a defect in the annulus fibrosis to cause displacement of disc material.
Herniated Nucleus Pulposus (HNP)
A catchall phrase for a herniated disc, other terms may include bulging, slipped, protruding, or extruded disc
Heterotopic Bone Formation
The occurrence of bone growth in an abnormal location
For spinal applications, a metallic medical device used to connect spinal structures to a rod.
The lattice–like structure of bone composed of calcium and phosphorous crystals which deposits on collagen to provide the rigid structure of bone

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Of unknown cause. No evidence of underlying physical or radiographic pathology.
Iliac Bone
A part of the pelvic bone that is above the hip joint and from which autogenous bone grafts are frequently obtained
Internal Fixation
The immobilization of bone fragments or joints with implants (metal screws, rods, etc.) in order to promote healing or fusion
Intervertebral disc
The ligamentous structure that normally occupies the space between two moving vertebrae. It is more prominent in the cervical and lumbar spines and is much like a radial tire. The centermost portion of the disc, the nucleus pulpous, is normally composed of a clear gelatinous material that varies in consistency from a firm jelly material to a very thick and less pliable substance. This core is surrounded by numerous layers of fibrocartilaginous material called the annulus fibrosus.

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The junction or articulation of two or more bones that permits varying degrees of motion between the bones

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The normal forward curvature of the thoracic spine. The condition “kyphosis” refers to an abnormal increase in this forward curvature.

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An anatomical portion of a vertebra. For each vertebra, two lamina connect the pedicles to the spinous process as part of the neural arch.
A spinal operation to remove part or all of the lamina of a vertebra. This is commonly performed in order to be able to remove an intervertebral disc protrusion or to decompress a nerve root.
Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Laser is a 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.
Situated away from the midline of the body
The normal mild “swayback” curve of the lumbar spine
Lumbar Spine
Also referred to as the low back. The lumbar spine usually has five mobile segments of the lower back (L1 to L5). These are the largest vertebral segments in the spine and provide most of the bending and turning ability of the back, in addition to bearing most body weight.

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Situated closer to the midline of the body
Minimally Invasive Surgery (MIS)
Surgery requiring small incision(s) to minimize tissue disruption, usually performed with endoscopic visualization

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Nerve Root
The portion of a spinal nerve in close proximity to its origin from the spinal cord
Failure of bone to heal or to obtain bony fusion following an arthrodesis
Nucleus Pulposus
The semi–gelatinous component in the center of an intervertebral disc. It is surrounded and contained by the annulus fibrosus which prevents this material from protruding outside the disc space.

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Also Orthopedics – the medical specialty involved in the preservation and restoration of function of the musculoskeletal system that includes treatment of spinal disorders and peripheral nerve lesions
The process of forming bone in the body
A medical condition in which the bones become brittle and fragile from loss of tissue, typically as a result of hormonal changes, or deficiency of calcium or vitamin D.
The surgical removal of a wedge or piece of vertebral bone to alter the alignment of the spine

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Pelvic Obliquity
Deviation of the pelvis from the horizontal in the frontal plane. Fixed pelvic obliquities can be attributed to contractures either above or below the pelvis.
A fibrous membrane that covers the surface of bone except at the end of the bones where it is covered with cartilage as part of a joint. In children, periosteum is involved in forming new bone and molding the configuration of bone. In adults, the periosteum forms new bone secondary to injury or infection.
Physical Therapy
Treatment consisting of exercising specific parts of the body such as the legs, arms, hands or neck, in an effort to strengthen, regain range of motion, relearn movements and/or rehabilitate the musculoskeletal system to improve function.
Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion – a way to do spinal fusion from a posterior approach.
Located behind a structure, such as relating to the back side of the body
Posterior Longitudinal Ligament
A thick ligament that covers the posterior side of the disc towards the spinal canal
Nearer or closer to a point of reference; opposite of distal
An area of spinal fusion where the bones did not heal or fuse together. Often found with broken instrumentation and, in some instances, although not always, increased pain.

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The surgical removal of part of a structure, such as bone
The removal of bone tissue by normal physiological process or as part of a pathological process such as an infection
Surgical transection of a nerve root
Rib Hump
The prominence of the ribs on the convexity of a spinal curvature, usually due to vertebral rotation best exhibited on forward bending
In spinal applications, a slender, metal implant which is used to immobilize and align the spine
The movement of one vertebra to another about its normal or abnormal coronal axis

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Sacral spine
The five fused segments of the lower spine that connect to the pelvis and have four foramen on each side - also called the Sacrum
Inflammation of the Sacroiliac Joint
The five fused segments of the lower spine that connect to the pelvis and have four foramen on each side - also called the Sacral Spine
Refers to a lengthwise cut that divides the body into right and left portions
Schmorl’s Nodes
Protrusions of the cartilage of the intervertebral disc through the vertebral body endplate and into the adjacent vertebra
A term indicating pain along the course of a sciatic nerve, especially noted in the back of the thigh and below the knee
Lateral, sideways, curvature of the spine with possible rotation of the vertebrae
Spina Bifida
A developmental congenital disorder where one or more spinal vertebrae overlying the spine do not fully form during development, meaning part of the spinal column does not close all the way
Spinal Canal
The long canal through which the spinal cord passes. It is enclosed between the vertebral bodies anteriorly and the lamina and spinous processes posteriorly.
Spinal Cord
The longitudinal cord of nerve tissue that is enclosed in the spinal canal. It serves not only as a pathway for nerve impulses to and from the brain, but as a center for carrying out and coordinating many reflex actions independently of the brain. In adults, it usually ends at the beginning of the lumbar spine.
Spinal Fusion
A surgical procedure to permanently join bone by interconnecting two or more vertebrae in order to prevent motion
Spinal Stenosis
Reduction in the diameter of the spinal canal due to arthritic overgrowth of bone and soft tissue, which may result in pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots
Spinous Process
The portion of the vertebrae that protrudes posteriorly from the spinal column. The spinous processes create the “bumps” felt on the midline of the back.
The forward displacement of a vertebrae on the one below it
A fracture of a posterior portion of the vertebra in the pars interarticularis bone. It may be unilateral or bilateral and is usually due to a developmental defect but may be secondary to a fracture. - Also referred to as a spinal stress fracture or a pars fracture
Degenerative changes of the spine due to osteoarthritis; also known as arthritis
Stainless Steel
Iron–based metal containing chromium that is highly resistant to stain, rust, and corrosion. Certain grades of stainless steel are commonly used to make surgical implants and instruments.
The abnormal narrowing of a passage in the body
Free from living organisms
The method used to render a material free from living organisms. Usual methods include steam under pressure, gas, and ionizing radiation.

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Thoracic spine
Twelve spinal segments (T1-T12) incorporating the 12 ribs of the thorax or mid-back. Other than a slight increase in size from top to bottom, they are fairly uniform in appearance.
A metallic element used to make surgical implants
Transforaminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion – a way to do spinal fusion from a posterior approach.
Transition Syndrome
A degenerative change with bony instability above or below a previous fusion

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One of the 33 bones of the spinal column. A cervical, thoracic, or lumbar vertebra has a cylindrically shaped body anteriorly and a neural arch posteriorly (composed primarily of the laminae and pedicles as well as the other structures in the posterior aspect of the vertebra) that protect the spinal cord. The plural of vertebra is vertebrae.
Vertebral End–Plates
The superior and inferior plates of cortical bone of the vertebral body adjacent to the intervertebral disc

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Metal thread available in various diameters and various degrees of stiffness and is generally used in surgery to transfix fractured bone

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eXtreme Lateral Interbody Fusion – a way to do spinal fusion from a lateral approach