Column Terminology

SPINE: Flexible structure formed by vertebrae that constitutes the longitudinal axis of the human skeleton. Children have 33 vertebrae while adults have 26. Coccygeus and sacral vertebrae are fused, forming the sacral bone and the coccyx.

VERTEBRA: Each one of the bones that form the human spine. Each single vertebra is formed by a body, an arc, two pedicles, a spinous process, two transverse processes, and an articular process.

SPINAL CORD: It is the segment of the central nervous system found on the inside of the vertebral column in the spinal conduct, containing cerebrospinal fluid. It is approximately 45 cm. long and stretches from the brainstem to the lumbosacral region of the spine. In humans, the spinal cord is the origin of 31 pairs of nerves of the peripheral nervous system. These nerves are formed in the intervertebral space from two roots that come out of the cord: one is the motor root and the other one is the sensitive root at the end of the back.

VERTEBRAL PEDICLE: It’s the lateral portion of the vertebra that joins the body with the process, and limits with the conjunction holes. It is the strongest part of the vertebral body.

MENINGOCELE OR SPINA BIFIDA: Protrusion of the meninges in the shape of a sac on a cerebral or spinal level, produced due to congenital defects in the skull or in the spine itself. A hernial cyst is formed which is full of cerebrospinal fluid, without containing nervous tissue. The anomaly is denominated cranial or spinal meningocele, depending on the defect’s location. The defect may be easily treated with surgery.

INTERVERTEBRAL DISC: They’re structures that separate the vertebrae. Each one forms a cartilaginous cushion that allows for slight vertebral movement and acts as a ligament to keep vertebrae together.

SPINAL DISC HERNIATION: Very frequent pathology, where a part of the intervertebral disc is displaced towards the nervous root, causing pain due to compression.

ARTHROSIS: Degenerative rheumatic disease, caused by the alteration of a joint’s cartilage. Cartilage degeneration is accompanied by bone tissue proliferation, which causes rigidity, pain, and inadequate joint flexibility. This disease is particularly common in older adults.

LISTHESIS: Displacement of a bone from its original anatomical position.

MICRODISCECTOMY OR DISCECTOMY: Surgical procedure involving resection of
intervertebral disk or the nucleus pulposus.

FORAMINOTOMY: Surgery that expands the intervertebral foramina whose diameter might be reduced. The procedure is generally done do relieve pressure on the nerve roots. Small bone fragments are extracted from the foramina to remove obstruction and free the spinal nerve

LAMINECTOMY: Surgical procedure that involves performing partial osteotomy of the lamina in order to provide access to the intersomatic spaces and the nerve roots. An excision of the posterior vertebral arc in one or more vertebral lamina is performed to decompress the spinal cord or the nerve roots to access and liberate the spinal canal

ARTHRODESIS: Intentional bone fusion as a result of a surgical intervention. May be instrumented or not. Generally, it consists of the fusion of two or more vertebrae.

SCOLIOSIS: Deformity of the human spine in any or all of its three planes. It has an angular component in the sagittal and coronal planes, and a rotational component in the axial one. It is a lateral deviation of the human spine caused by congenital or acquired malformations in the vertebrae. Typically, the most affected zones are the higher and lower ends of the patient’s back.

KYPHOSIS: From the Greek kyphos, or convex. It defines the physiological curvature of the dorsal spine whose concavity is forwards-oriented. It is the most frequent type of spine deformity. This posterior concavity of one or more segments of the spine, as well as vertebral alterations, make it adopt a typical wedge shape.

LORDOSIS: Physiological curvature in the sagittal plane of the lumbar and cervical segments whose concavity is oriented backwards.