Abdominal Muscles

Important for support of the spine, these muscles are the rectus abdominis, external oblique, internal oblique, and transversus.


Localized collection of pus in a cavity which may form in any tissue.


Severe, for a short time.


A benign growth formed of glandular tissue.

Allograft Bone

Sterile bone derived from another human which is used for grafting procedures.


Loss of sensibility to pain, loss of response to a painful stimulus.


Loss of sensation of a body part; or of the body when induced by the administration of a drug.


Physician who administers pain-killing medications during surgery.


Dilation of an artery, formed by a circumscribed enlargement of its wall. Saccular (berry) aneurysm - sac-like bulging on one side of an artery usually arising at an arterial branching.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

Stiffening or fixation of the vertebra; an inflammatory joint disease mainly affecting the spine hips, and pelvis.


Front of the body or situated nearer the front of the body.

Anterior Approach

When used to approach the cervical, cervicodorsal, dorsal, and lumbar spines, it is designed to provide sufficient surface for multiple segmental spinal fusions; Hodgson, Roaf. For specific cervical spinal explorations and fusions; Southwick and Robinson, Bailey and Badgley, Whitesides and kelly, Henry (to vertebral artery).

Anterior Cervical Discectomy

An operation where the cervical spine is reached through a small incision in the front of your neck. After the soft tissues of the neck are separated, the intervertebral disc and bone spurs are removed.

Anterior Cervical Discectomy with Fusion

An operation performed on the upper spine to relieve pressure on one or more nerve roots, or on the spinal cord. The term is derived from the words anterior (front), cervical (neck), and fusion (joining the vertebrae with a bone graft).

Anterior Lumbar Interbody Fusion (ALIF)

Operation where the lumbar spine is approached through an incision in the abdomen. A portion of the affected disc space is removed from the spine and replaced with an implant.

Anterior Spinal Fusion

Approaching the spine from the front, the intervertable disc and/or vertebral body is removed and bone graft is inserted. Some variations of this procedure include the Smith-Robinson, Cloward and dowel procedures.


Situated or occurring in front of and to the side.

Anterolateral Approach

An approach to the dorsal spine by rib resection to explore the spine anteriorly and in some cases to do spinal fusions and decompressions spinal cord.


Middle layer of membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.


Inflammation of the arachnoid membrane, most commonly seen within the spinal cord around the spinal cord and cauda equina.


Joint pain.


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 it's 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.


Cell which supports the nerve cells (neurons) of the brain and spinal cord.


Tumor within the substance of the brain or spinal cord made up of astrocytes - often classified from Grade I (slow-growing) to Grade III (rapid-growing).

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.


A graft in which the donor and recipient area are in the same individual.


Back Pain

Nonspecific term used to describe pain below the cervical spine.


See Spine.


Not cancerous; does not invade nearby tissue or spread to other parts of the body.


A characteristic of some materials that when they are inserted into the body do not produce a significant rejection or immune response.


Removal of a small portion of tissue, usually for the purpose of making a diagnosis.


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 Derivative

One of the substances extracted from bone, such as bone morphogenic proteins (BMP).

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 Harvesting

The removal of bone for transplantation to another site. The most common sources are the iliac crests because these bones contain a large amount of cancellous bone, the inner spongy part, which is useful for getting grafts to "take."

Bone Morphogenetic Protein-2 (BMP-2)

One of a family of BMPs – naturally occurring chemicals in the body- that play a major role in bone growth. BMP-like products: proteins that enhance mineralization, which can increase bone formation.

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.


Relating to the arm.



Cancer, a malignant growth of epithelial or gland cells.

Carpal Tunnel

Space under a ligament in wrist through which the median nerve enters the palm of the hand.

Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

A condition caused by compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel, characterized especially by discomfort and disturbances of sensation in the hand.


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.

Central Nervous System

Part of the nervous system which consists of the brain and spinal cord, to which sensory impulses are transmitted and from which motor impulses pass out, and which supervises and coordinates the activity of the entire nervous system.


The lower part of the brain which is beneath the posterior portion of the cerebrum and regulates unconscious coordination of movement.


Relating to the brain or intellect.

Cerebral Cortex

Surface layer of gray matter of the cerebrum that functions chiefly in coordination of higher nervous activity; called also pallium.

Cerebrospinal Fluid (CSF)

Water-like fluid produced in the brain that circulates and protects the brain and spinal cord, known as CSF.


The principal portion of the brain, which occupies the major portion of the interior of the skull and controls conscious movement, sensation and thought.


Of or relating to the neck.

Cervical Plexus

Plexus of nerves that supply the neck muscles with branches named by muscles supplied, a portion which is called the ansa cervicalis.

Cervical Spinal Fusion

Spinal fusion involving the seven cervical segments. This may include the base of the skull, the occiput, and the first thoracic spine.

Chiari Malformation

A condition in which there is displacement of the medulla and cerebellum into the opening in the basilar part of the occipital bone. It is one of the causes of hydrocephalus and is usually accompanied by spina bifida and menigomyelocele.


The small bone at the end of the spinal column in man, formed by the fusion of four rudimentary vertebrae. The three, and sometimes four, segments of bone just below the sacrum; referred to as the tailbone.


A squeezing together; the exertion of pressure on a body in such a way as to tend to increase its density; the decrease in a dimension of a body under the action of two external forces directed toward one another in the same straight line.


A disruption, usually temporary, of neurological function resulting from a blow or violent shaking.


Transverse incision into the spinal cord.


Excision of vertebral body usually combined with interpostion of prosthesis or bone graft.


The external layer of gray matter covering the hemispheres of the cerebrum and cerebellum.


Pertaining to the cortex.


Opening of skull and removal of a portion of it.


The operative repair of a defect of the skull.


Opening of the skull, usually by creating a flap of bone.


The part of the skull that holds the brain.

Crankshaft Phenomenon

Progressions of a spinal curve due to continued growth of the unfused anterior aspect of the spine following a posterior spine fusion for scoliosis in children.

CT Scan (Computed Tomography Scan)

A diagnostic imaging technique in which a computer reads x-rays to create a three-dimensional map of soft tissue or bone.



In relation to the spine this procedure is carried out to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.

Decompressive Laminectomy

A decompression done by removing the lamina and spinous process.


The lesion results from intersegmental instability of long duration.

Degenerative Disc Disease

Gradual or rapid deterioration of the chemical composition and physical properties of the disc space.

Demineralized Bone Matrix (DMB)

A source of BMP and derived from pulverized bone specimens that are demineralized with an acid solution. It is used as a bone grafting material, but DMB has produced disappointing results in clinical studies, probably due to low concentrations of BMP that can also vary from batch to batch.


The intervertebral disc – cartilaginous cushion found between the vertebrae of the spinal column. It may bulge beyond the vertebral body and compress the nearby nerve root, causing pain. The terms "slipped disc", "ruptured disc" and "herniated disc" are often used interchangeably even though there are subtle differences.

Disc Degeneration

The loss of the structural and functional integrity of the disc.

Disc Space Infection

Infection in the space normally occupied by an intervertebral disc.


Surgical removal of part or all of an intervertebral disc material placing pressure on neural elements.


Nonbacterial inflammation of an intervertebral disc or disc space.


The graphic record, usually radiographic, of diskography.


Radiographic demonstration of intervertebral disc by injection of contrast media into the nucleus of the pulposus.


Displacement of an organ or any part; specifically disturbance or disarrangement of the normal relation of the bones entering the formation of a joint.


Situated away from the center of the body.


The round balloon like portion of the aneurysm which usually arises from the artery from a smaller portion called the neck of the aneurysm.

Dorsal Column

The main, normal sensory tract to the brain.

Dorsal Lateral Column

The main tract of position and tone to the brain.


An approach to the dorsal spine by costotransversectomy, usually done for fractures and other affections of the spinal cord.

Dura Mater

A tough fibrous membrane which covers the brain and spinal cord, but is separated from them by a small space.


Pertaining to the dura.


Congenital abnormalities of the arch of the sacrum or the arch of L-5 that permit the slipping to occur.