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Allograft Bone – Sterile bone derived from another
human which is used for grafting procedures.
Anterior – The front portion of the body. It is often
used to indicate the position of one structure relative to another.
Annulus Fibrosus – The outer, fibrous, ring–like portion
of an intervertebral disc.
Anterolateral – Situated or occurring in front of and
to the side.
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.
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
Arthropathy – Any disease or disorder involving a joint.
Arthroplasty – 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.
Arthroscopy – The procedure of visualizing the inside
of a joint by means of an arthroscope.
Articular – 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.
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,
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 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 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 Screw – A threaded metal device which is inserted
into bone. The functions of bone screws are to immobilize bones
or bone fragments or to affix other medical devices, such as
metal bone plates, to bones.
Cancellous Bone – The spongy or honeycomb structure
of some bone tissue typically found at the ends of long bones.
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.
Centrum – The body of a vertebra.
Cervical – The neck region of the spine containing
the first seven vertebrae.
Chemonucleolysis – A treatment of an intervertebral
disc that consists of an injection of chymopapain, a drug that
dissolves part of the disc.
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.
Coccyx – The region of the spine below the sacrum.
It is also known as the tailbone.
Collagen – A fibrous protein which is a major constituent
of connective tissue, such as skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage,
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
Compensatory Curve – A curve, which can be structural,
above or below a major curve that tends to maintain normal body
Compression – The act of pressing together – refers
to the loss of vertebral body height either anteriorly, posteriorly
Congenital – Present at and existing from the time
Coronal – Refers to a section that divides the body
into anterior and posterior portions.
Cortical Bone – Bone tissue which has been depleted
of its minerals; e.g. calcium and phosphorous.
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.
Discectomy – Surgical removal of part or all of an
Distal – Situated away from the center of the body.
Distraction – Excessive space between fracture fragments
or vertebral segments due to interposed tissue or, most often,
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.
Endogenous – Arising within or derived from the body.
Endoscope – A medical device for viewing internal portions
of the body. It is usually comprised of fiber optic tubes and
video display instruments.
Endoscopy – Inspection of internal body structures
or cavities using an endoscope.
Epidural – Situated outside the thin, tough dural membrane
that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
Excision – Removal by cutting away material.
Exogenous – Originating outside of the body.
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 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.
Fibrosis – The replacement of normal tissue with scar
Foramen – A natural opening or passage in bone.
Fracture – A disruption of the normal continuity of
Fusion – Union or healing of bone.
Gibbus – A sharply angular kyphos.
– Extrusion of part of the nucleus pulposus material through
a defect in the annulus fibrosus.
Heterotopic Bone Formation – The occurrence of bone
growth in an abnormal location.
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.
Iatrogenic – Occurring without known cause. Self–originated.
Iliac Bone – A part of the pelvic bone that is above
the hip joint and from which autogenous bone grafts are frequently
Iliac Crest – The large, prominent portion of the pelvic
bone at the belt line of the body.
Immobilization – Limitation of motion or fixation of
a body part usually to promote healing.
Intervertebral Disc – See Disc.
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
Inferior – Situated below or directed downward.
Internal Fixation – The immobilization of bone fragments
or joints with implants in order to promote healing or fusion.
Joint – The junction or articulation of two or more
bones that permits varying degrees of motion between the bones.
Kyphosis – An abnormal increase in the normal kyphotic
curvature of the thoracic spine.
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 – An operation for removal of part or all
of the lamina of a vertebra, commonly performed in order to be
able to remove an intervertebral disc protrusion or to decompress
a nerve root.
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
Lateral – Situated away from the midline of the body.
Ligament – A band of flexible, fibrous connective tissue
that is attached at the end of a bone near a joint. The main
function of a ligament is to attach bones to one another, to
provide stability of a joint, and to prevent or limit some joint
Load Sharing – Structural support through grafts and/or
Lordosis – An abnormal increase in the normal lordotic
curvature of the lumbar spine.
Lumbago – A non–medical term signifying pain in the
Lumbar – The lower part of the spine between the thoracic
region and the sacrum. The lumbar spine consists of five vertebrae.
Medial – Situated closer to the midline of the body.
Minimally Invasive Surgery – Surgery requiring small
incision(s), usually performed with endoscopic visualization.
Neurosurgery – The surgical speciality involved in
the treatment of disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral
Nerve Root – The bony arch of the posterior aspect
of a vertebra that surrounds the spinal cord, also referred to
as the vertebral arch.
Non–Union – Failure of the fragments of a fractured
bone to heal or to obtain bony fusion following an arthrodesis.
Nucleus Pulposus – The semi–gelatinous tissue 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.
Orthopaedics (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.
Ossification – The process of forming bone in the body.
Osteoporosis – A disorder in which bone is abnormally
brittle, less dense, and is the result of a number of different
diseases and abnormalities.
Pathology – The study of disease states.
Pedicle – The part of each side of the neural arch
of a vertebra. It connects the lamina with the vertebral body.
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.
Periosteum – 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; and
in the adult, the periosteum forms new bone secondary to injury
Physical Therapy – The 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 movement
and/or rehabilitate the musculoskeletal system to improve function.
Physiology – The science of the functioning of living
organisms, and of their component systems or parts.
Posterior – Located behind a structure, such as relating
to the back side of the human body.
Prosthesis – An artificial body part such as an artificial
leg or arm. The term prosthesis is also used to describe some
of the implants used in the body such as a hip or knee replacement
Proximal – Nearest the center of the body.
Pseudoarthrosis (also Pseudarthrosis) – A form of a
non–union in which there is the formation of a false joint with
some cartilage covering the ends of the bones and a cavity containing
fluid that resembles a normal joint.
Resection – The surgical removal of part of a structure,
such as bone.
Resorption – The removal of bone tissue by normal physiological
process or as part of a pathological process such as an infection.
Rhizotomy – 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.
Rod – In spinal applications, a slender, metal implant
which is used to immobilize and align the spine.
Rotation – The movement of one vertebra to another
about its normal or abnormal coronal axis.
Ruptured Disc – See Herniated Disc.
Sacrum – A part of the spine that is also part of the
pelvis. It articulates with the ilia at the sacroiliac joints
and articulates with the lumbar spine at the lumbosacral joint.
The sacrum consists of five fused vertebrae that have no intervertebral
Sagittal – Refers to a lengthwise cut that divides
the body into right and left portions.
Sciatica – A lay term indicating pain along the course
of a sciatic nerve, especially noted in the back of the thigh
and below the knee.
Scoliosis – Lateral (sideways) curvature of the spine.
Sepsis – A state of infection of tissue due to disease–producing
bacteria or toxins.
Skeleton – The rigid framework of bones that gives
form to the body, protects and supports the soft organs and tissues,
and provides attachments for muscles.
Spinal Stenosis – Reduction in the diameter of the
spinal canal due to new bone formation which may result in pressure
on the spinal cord or nerve roots.
Spinal Disc – See Disc (Intervertebral).
Spinal Column – See Spine.
Spinal Fusion – A surgical procedure to permanently
join bone by interconnecting two or more vertebrae in order to
prevent motion (see Arthrodesis).
Spinal Canal – The bony channel that is formed by the
intravertebral foramen of the vertebrae and in which contains
the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Spinal Cord – The longitudinal cord of nerve tissue
that is enclosed in the spinal canal. It serves not only as a
pathway for nervous impulses to and from the brain, but as a
center for carrying out and coordinating many reflex actions
independently of the brain.
Spine – The flexible bone column extending from the
base of the skull to the tailbone. It is made up of 33 bones,
known as vertebrae. The first 24 vertebrae are separated by discs
known as intervertebral discs, and bound together by ligaments
and muscles. Five vertebrae are fused together to form the sacrum
and 4 vertebrae are fused together to form the coccyx. The spine
is also referred to as the vertebral column, spinal column, or
Spondylitis – Inflammation of vertebrae.
Spondylolisthesis – A defect in the construct of bone
between the superior and inferior facets with varying degrees
of displacement so the vertebra with the defect and the spine
above that vertebra are displaced forward in relationship to
the vertebrae below. It is usually due to a developmental defect
or the result of a fracture.
Spondylolysis – Displacement of one vertebra over another
with fracture of a posterior portion of the vertebra. A defect
in the neural arch between the superior and inferior facets of
vertebrae without separation at the defect and therefore no displacement
of the vertebrae. It may be unilateral or bilateral and is usually
due to a developmental defect but may be secondary to a fracture.
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.
Sterile – Free from living organisms.
Sterilization – The method used to render a material
free from living organisms. Usual methods include steam under
pressure, gas, and ionizing radiation.
Superior – Situated above or directed upward toward
the head of an individual.
Tendon – The fibrous band of tissue that connects muscle
to bone. It is mainly composed of collagen.
Thoracic – The chest level region of the spine that
is located between the cervical and lumbar vertebrae. It consists
of 12 vertebrae which serve as attachment points for ribs.
Titanium – A metallic element used to make surgical
Toxicology – The study of the toxic or harmful effects
of substances on the body.
Translation – Vertebral body displacement – can describe
lateral, anterior or posterior displacement.
Transplant – The implantation of bone tissue, as in
grafting, from one part of the body to another, or from one individual
to another. Transplant also refers to the transfer of an organ
such as a kidney or heart from one individual to another.
Transverse – Refers to a cut that divides the body
into superior and inferior portions.
Vertebra – 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 protects 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
Wire – Metal thread available in various diameters
and various degrees of stiffness and is generally used in surgery
to transfix fractured bone.