In the past I’ve shared how to use an iPhone to photograph a persons xrays, showed marking of an AP Pelvic Lumber x-ray, as well as a LMFAO acronym on a neck xray.

Today I am sharng a list of words, along with brief definitions, that you may see in a spinal radiological report from a orthopedist, chiropractor or radiologist. The list is intended for individuals that have at least a basic education in radiology and radiologic terminology.

Anterolisthesis – anterior slippage of one vertebra with reference to the one below.

Biomechanical changes – diagnostic term referring to changes in normal motion of the spine. Flexion, extension, or lateral bending studies are nearly always included in the study if this term is utilized.

Congenital anomaly – a structure or defect of embryological origin that usually causes clinical signs or symptoms.

Convexity – lateral curvature of the spine that is less than 10 degrees. A convexity is named for the side toward which it bows outward (or outside of the “C” shape. A concavity is the inside of the “C” shape, the side toward which the spine curls).

Degenerative Disc Disease – a diagnostic term used to signify loss of disc height with little or no spondylophyte formation.

forward cervical flexion x-rayPhoto: Forward Flexion Cervical X-Ray

Degenerative Joint Disease (a.k.a. osteoarthrosis and formerly known as osteoarthritis) – a general term for degenerative processes that occur in any joint. Most commonly used for synovial joints. More specific terms are available to describe spinal degeneration.

Enthesopathy – a general term for disease process at the insertion of tendons, ligaments, or joint capsules onto bones.

Facet arthrosis – degeneration in facet joints (a diagnostic term).

Hyperkyphosis – an increase in the sagittal curve of a section of the spine that normally demonstrates a posterior convexity

Hyperlordosis – an increase in the sagittal curve of a section of the spine that normally demonstrates an anterior convexity.

Hypolordosis – a decrease in the sagittal curve of a section of the spine that normally demonstrates an anterior convexity.

Inclination – a lateral tilt of the spine without actual curvature.

Intervertebral osteochondrosis – a diagnostic term used for degeneration of the nucleus pulposus demonstrated by decrease in disc height with only minimal spondylophyte formation, subchondral sclerosis, and intradiscal vacuum phenomenon.

Laterolisthesis – lateral slippage of one vertebra with reference to the one below. This is rarely seen.

List – a lateral tilt of the spine without actual curvature.

Normal variant – a structure or defect present that causes no major change in appearance and is clinically insignificant.

Pelvic unleveling – viewed coronally, one innominate bone is lower than the other. The low side is the side that should be referred to.

Postural changes – diagnostic term referring to increased or decreased spinal curves, convexities of the spine, and unleveling of body parts.

Retrolisthesis – posterior slippage of one vertebra with reference to the one below.

Scoliosis – lateral curvature of the spine that is equal to or greater than 10 degrees.

Spondylolisthesis – diagnostic term describing slippage of one vertebra on another. May be subdivided into anteriolisthesis, posterolisthesis, or laterolisthesis. When using any of these terms, a measurement in millimeters should be given in the findings section, then a classification (grade) applied in the impressions section. The etiology should also be stated (i.e. dysplastic, isthmic, degenerative, traumatic, or pathologic).

Spondylolysis – a defect in the pars interarticularis of a vertebra. Spondylolisthesis is not necessarily present. Seen most commonly in the lumbar spine.

Spondylosis (a.k.a. Spondylosis deformans) – a diagnostic term used for spondylophytic (osteophytic) changes at the discovertebral margins of the vertebral bodies while disc height is maintained. This is degenerative disc disease involving primarily the anulus fibroslls.

Swayback – four criteria are necessary: Posterior weight bearing of the lumbar spine, extension of the lower lumbar spine, decreased lordosis of the upper lumbar spine, and lowering of the apex of the lumbar curvature.

Uncovertebral arthrosis – a diagnostic term for degeneration of the joints of von Luschka.