Glossary of Terms

Glossary of Terms

Allograft – obtained from a bone bank, this human bone graft material is placed between vertebrae to develop fusion

Annulus – the outer casing of a vertebral disc

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF) – an operation where the lumbar spine is approached from the front through an incision in the abdomen

Arthritis – an inflammation of a joint, usually accompanied by pain, swelling, and changes in structure

Autograft – a bone graft taken from the patient’s body that is placed between vertebrae to develop fusion

Axial Lumbar Interbody Fusion (AxiaLIF) -  the least invasive lumbar fusion technique where the spine is approached through a small incision near the tailbone

Bone Graft -  bone taken from the patient during surgery or a bone substitute that is used o take the place of removed bone or to fill a bony defect

Bone Spurs – bony projections formed along joints that can limit motion and can cause pain (also called osteophytes)

Cancellous Bone – open, latticed, or porous inner bone structure

Cauda Equina – a bundle of nerve roots from the lumbar and sacral spinal nerves

Cervical Spine – the uppermost portion of the spine; the neck

Coccyx – the tailbone

Contraindication – a factor that renders the administration of a drug or device or the carrying out of a medical procedure inadvisable

Contradication – a factor that renders the administration of a drug or device or the carrying out of a medical procedure inadvisable

Cortiacal Bone – the dense, hard outer layer of bone material

Degenerative Disc Disease – a slow deterioration of discs located between vertebrae

Disc Degeneration – the deterioration of a disc and possible loss of disk height

Discectomy – removal of a portion of a herniated or degenerative intervertebral disc

Dura Mater – a protective membrane covering the spinal cord and brain

Facet Joint – There is one facet joint on each side of a vertebra, together these joints allow movement between two vertebrae and provide stability

Fluoroscope – a portable x-ray machine used in surgery

Foramen – the small openings in the spine which nerve roots pass through

Fusion – the joining together of two or more vertebra

Herniated Disc – a bulge in a disc that can press on nerves and cause pain

Intervertebral Disc – a flat, round “cushion” that acts as a shock absorber between vertebrae

Kyphosis  - abnormal rearward curvature of the spine, resulting in protuberance of the upper back (hunchback)

Lamina – a part of the vertebra located in the back of the vertebral body

Laminectomy – when a part or all of the lamina is removed

Lordosis- abnormal forward curvature of the spine on the lumbar region

Lumbar Spine – ower portion of the spine between the thoracic spine and the sacrum. The lumbar spine consists of five bones (vertebrae) labled L1-L5

Minimally Invasive – a surgical procedure where a small incision is made and instrumentation is used through this incision

Nucleous Pulposus – center of the intervertebral disc

Pedicle – strong portion of the spinal vertebral bone tat connects the front of the spine to the back of the spine
Pelvis – the bony structure formed by the hip bones, sacrum, and coccyx

Posterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (PLIF) – a spine fusion operation where the patient’s lumbar spine is approached through an incision in the lower back

Radiculopathy – pain originating from a pinched, compressed or irritated nerve root that may extend into the extremities

Sacroiliac Joints – joints that connect the sacrum to the pelvis

Sacrum – the sacrum consists of five vertebrae labeled S1-S5. The vertebrae are normally fused, but in some patients may not all be fused due to natural anatomic variance

Sciatica – pressure on the sciatic nerve, causing pain which radiated from the back to the lower extremities

Spinous Process – Bony portion opposite the body of the vertebrae over the vertebrae below it

Thoracic Spine – middle portion of the spine below the cervical spine (neck) and above the lumbar spine. This area consists of your upper body and ribs.

Transformational Lumbar Interbody Fusion (TLIF) – an operation where the lumbar spine is approached from the side

Transverse Process – small, bony bumps where back muscles attach to vertebrae

Vertebra – (plural vertebrae) any one of the 33 bony segments of the spinal column

Visual Analog Scale – a tool used to help a person rate the intensity of certain sensations and feelings such as pain.

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