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Concept: Spondylolysis


Bony defects in the spine are divided into three main types: spondylolysis, pediculolysis, and laminolysis. Lumbar spondylolysis is a well-known stress fracture that occurs frequently in adolescent athletes. Pediculolysis means stress fracture of the pedicle, which sometimes occurs subsequent to unilateral spondylolysis. Laminolysis is a rarely reported stress fracture similar to spondylolysis and pediculolysis that sometimes causes low back pain (LBP). However, its pathomechanism has not been elucidated. Recently, we encountered four adolescent athletes with symptomatic laminolysis. Mean age was 15.8 (range 15-17) years. All subjects reported severe LBP exacerbated by extension of the lumbar spine, and radiology revealed two types of laminolysis: hemilaminar type and intralaminar type. To elucidate the mechanisms of each type, we reviewed a biomechanical study, and found that the hemilaminar type was thought to be subsequent to contralateral spondylolysis, while the intralaminar type might be a result of a stress fracture due to repetitive extension loading.

Concepts: Spinal disc herniation, Low back pain, Back pain, Lumbar vertebrae, Acupuncture, Massage, Spondylolysis


INTRODUCTION: Spondylolysis is most commonly observed in the lumbar spine, particularly L5, and is associated with spondylolisthesis, or anterior “slippage” of a vertebra in relation to an adjacent vertebra. Isthmic spondylolisthesis is the result of a pars interarticularis defect and will be the only type of spondylolisthesis addressed in this review. CONCLUSIONS: Spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis represent a relatively common cause of low back pain, especially in young athletes, and a less common cause of neurologic compromise. When discovered in a symptomatic patient with corroborating imaging findings, early intervention provides an excellent prognosis. Herein, we review the anatomy and pathology of spondylosis and spondylolisthesis of the L5 vertebra.

Concepts: Spinal disc herniation, Low back pain, Lumbar vertebrae, Vertebra, Spondylolisthesis, Medical school, Spondylolysis, Pars interarticularis


Spondylolysis is a fracture of the pars interarticularis, the portion of the neural arch that lies between the superior articular facets and the inferior articular facets. Clinical evidence has suggested repetitive trauma to be the most probable cause, even though morphological weakness of the vertebra is probably also involved. Prevalence is between 3% and 8% in modern populations, while in archaeological samples it varies from 0% to 71.4%. Considering that very little data about this condition is available in past populations from the southern extreme of South America, the aim of this paper is to analyze the spondylolysis in a human skeletal sample from Southern Patagonia and, at the same time, to explore the prevalence of spondylolysis in archaeological contexts around the world to gain a better understanding of the results presented here. The Southern Patagonian skeletal series analyzed here showed a prevalence of 20%, with lower prevalence in the pre contact sample (11.1%) than in the contact period (23.1%). Skeletons from the Salesian Mission “Nuestra Señora de La Candelaria” showed a higher prevalence (25%) than the sample of skeletal remains recovered from outside the mission (20%), suggesting that changes in lifestyle of hunter-gatherers during contact could be implicated in the development of spondylolysis in this sample. A worldwide survey displays a wide range of prevalence figures in American and Asian samples and low diversity between African and European populations. Hunter-gatherers from Southern Patagonia showed similar values to those observed in other American samples.

Concepts: Sample, Skeletal system, Vertebra, South America, Human skeleton, Spondylolysis, Patagonia, Pars interarticularis


The hypothesis that spondylolysis (SL) and/or isthmic spondylolisthesis (IS) cause low back pain (LBP) is widely accepted representing surgical indication in symptomatic cases. If SL/IS cause LBP, individuals with these conditions should be more prone to LBP than those without SL/IS. Therefore, the goal of the study was to assess whether the published primary data demonstrate an association between SL/IS and LBP in the general adult population.

Concepts: Spinal disc herniation, Low back pain, Back pain, Lumbar vertebrae, Spondylolisthesis, Spondylolysis


Although direct repair (DR) with screw fixation at the pars defect is a common surgical treatment for lumbar spondylolysis, it is unknown whether DR leads to better outcomes for young patients with spondylolysis than traditional non-surgical treatment.

Concepts: Clinical trial, Lumbar vertebrae,, Spondylolisthesis, Skeletal disorders, Conservatism, Spondylolysis, Pars interarticularis


The aim of this paper was to systematically review the diagnostic ability of clinical tests to detect lumbar spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis. A systematic literature search of six databases, with no language restrictions, from 1950 to 2014 was concluded on February 1, 2014. Clinical tests were required to be compared against imaging reference standards and report, or allow computation, of common diagnostic values. The systematic search yielded a total of 5164 articles with 57 retained for full-text examination, from which 4 met the full inclusion criteria for the review. Study heterogeneity precluded a meta-analysis of included studies. Fifteen different clinical tests were evaluated for their ability to diagnose lumbar spondylolisthesis and one test for its ability to diagnose lumbar spondylolysis. The one-legged hyperextension test demonstrated low to moderate sensitivity (50%-73%) and low specificity (17%-32%) to diagnose lumbar spondylolysis, while the lumbar spinous process palpation test was the optimal diagnostic test for lumbar spondylolisthesis; returning high specificity (87%-100%) and moderate to high sensitivity (60-88) values. Lumbar spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are identifiable causes of LBP in athletes. There appears to be utility to lumbar spinous process palpation for the diagnosis of lumbar spondylolisthesis, however the one-legged hyperextension test has virtually no value in diagnosing patients with spondylolysis.

Concepts: Diagnosis, Systematic review, Sensitivity and specificity, Lumbar vertebrae, Spondylolisthesis, Meta-analysis, Study heterogeneity, Spondylolysis


Spondylolytic (or lytic) spondylolisthesis is often associated with disc degeneration at the index-level; however, it is not clear if disc degeneration is the cause or the consequence of lytic spondylolisthesis. The main objective of this computed tomography based finite element modelling study was to examine the role of different grades of disc degeneration in the progression of a bilateral L5-lytic defect to spondylolisthesis.

Concepts: Finite element method, Spondylolisthesis, Spondylolysis


Pars defect and spondylolisthesis are frequent conditions, while bone tumors-particularly the primaries-are rare. The contemporary occurrence can delay the diagnosis of the tumor, if symptoms are considered related to spondylolisthesis, or can make reconstruction more demanding. To our knowledge, only two case reports of this contemporary occurrence have been published in the literature. Being such rare, guidelines on surgical treatment have not been proposed yet.

Concepts: Medical terms, Brain tumor, Tumor, Spondylolisthesis, Spondylolysis, Pars interarticularis


Acquired spondylolysis represents an uncommon complication of spine surgery, of an unknown incidence and etiology. We studied patients presenting this rare entity, with the purpose to investigate the incidence, imaging findings, patients' clinical characteristics, as well as to provide an interpretation of the mechanisms that may lead to this phenomenon. The presented working hypothesis, regarding etiology, suggests that there is a relation between variations in spinopelvic sagittal alignment and acquired spondylolysis. Between January 2010 and January 2015, six patients presented spondylolysis after short-segment transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion, at a mean time of 43 months after surgery. The preoperative intactness and postoperative defect of pars interarticularis were documented with computed tomography scans in all patients. Standard radiographical spinopelvic parameters were measured before and after surgery. The optimum values of lumbar lordosis (LL) and pelvic incidence minus lumbar lordosis modifier (PI-LL mismatch) were calculated as well. The incidence of acquired spondylolysis was 0.95% among patients with short-segment lumbar fusion. Patients presented high-grade PI with a vertically orientated sacral endplate, while LL was found 9° greater and PI-LL mismatch 9° lower than the respective optimum values, indicating a non-harmonized alignment. In conclusion, acquired spondylolysis, though rare, may occur in patients with high-grade PI and sacral slope, and suboptimal spinopelvic sagittal alignment after lumbar spine surgery, thereby highlighting the importance of detailed preoperative planning in spine surgery, along with the study of sagittal balance.

Concepts: Medicine, Skeletal system, Lumbar vertebrae, Vertebral column, Vertebra, Spondylolysis, Lordosis, Pars interarticularis


Lumbar spondylolysis and isthmic spondylolisthesis are common conditions. However, double-level lumbar spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are rare. We report 24 cases of it along with a review of literature and a briefly description of the clinical and radiological features and integrated management of patients with this condition.

Concepts: Lumbar vertebrae, Retrospective, Radiology, Spondylolisthesis, Skeletal disorders, Spondylolysis, Pars interarticularis