Monday, September 17, 2018

Spondylosis, Spondylolysis, Spondylolisthesis, and Spondylitis

Spondylosis, Spondylolysis, Spondylolisthesis, and Spondylitis are four terms that are easily confused for one another. All refer to specific pathologies of the spine. Hopefully the descriptions and explanation below will help you break down each word and remember the distinctions.

To distinguish each word, ignore the prefix spondyl- , which comes from the Greek spondylos, meaning vertebral body. Focus on the suffixes.


The suffix -osis here refers to any pathology, but usually is referring to degenerative changes of the spine.


The suffix -lysis refers to the breakdown or absences of bone, specifically pars defects, most commonly found in the lower lumbar spine at L5-S1.


In this context, -listhesis refers to the alignment of spine. For specificity, the term anterolisthesis refers to the more superior vertebral body being more anteriorly positioned relative to the next inferior vertebral body. Retrolisthesis is the reverse.


As in many other conditions, the suffix -itis refers to inflammatory changes (i.e. arthritis). A common form of spondylitis is ankylosing spondylitis, a HLA-B27 seropositive arthropathy.

Spondylosis, Spondylolysis, Spondylolisthesis, and Spondylitis Explained
Source: Huffington Post 
Hopefully these definitions clear up the confusion among these entities. Remember, focus on the suffix in order to figure out the disease process being discussed.

This post is derived from notes I took during training. Any images are copyright their respective owners.



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