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Achilles- Tendon at the back of the foot/ankle which elicits a reflex response when struck with a reflex hammer.

AFO brace – (Ankle / Foot / Orthosis brace) A brace (usually plastic) worn on the lower leg and foot to support the ankle, hold the foot & ankle in the correct position, and correct foot drop.

Anterior subarachnoid space – The subarachnoid space contains cerebrospinal fluid which bathes the spinal cord, the anterior space is the location in front of the spinal cord.

Antiangiogenesis- Molecules which prevent the formation of new blood vessels. Currently research in several molecules to prevent tumor growth in brain or other soft tissues.

Arachnoiditis- The arachnoid is a membrane which may form scar tissue following surgery, trauma, repeated myelograms or other events. The formation of scar tissue causes the nerve roots to clump and may contribute to postoperative pain months or years following surgery.

Astrocytoma- Primary tumor which arises from astrocytes, a cell of the brain and spinal cord.

Atrophy- Wasting or thinning of a muscle group because of lack of innervation.

Fibrolipoma- Fatty tissue with other connective tissue.

Botox- Toxin, botulinum, which is used for cosmetic as well as therapeutic effects. It causes relaxation of tight muscles.

Cauda equine-“Horse’s tail” It is the termination of the spinal cord in all of the lower nerves to the lower extremities.

Cervical- Region of the spinal cord from the back of the brain to the level of the shoulders.

Clonus- A form of movement marked by contractions andrelaxations of a muscle, occurring in rapid succession.

Contracture- Deformity of an extremity because of extreme spasticity or tightness of the muscle groups.

Conus- The most terminal part of the spinal cord before the cauda equine.

Cyst- Fluid filled cavity.

Degenerative disc disease- Part of the aging process where the discs between the vertebral bodies show changes such as loss of height and water content.

Dermatomes- Maps on the body which correlate to nerve sensation and motor function particular to the nerve.

Disc bulge- The disc between the vertebral bodies has herniated out of the space and maybe causing compression to the spinal cord or nerve root.

Dura- The thick covering of the spinal cord.

Dural graft– Patch graft that surgeons place after surgery to give added space for the spinal cord

EMG- Test to assess the nerve conduction from the brain, through the spinal cord to the extremities. It involves needles placed in certain muscle groups.

Ependymoma- Tumor which arise from ependymal cells. These cells are found in the center of the spinal cord.

Epidural- The space just superficial to the dura.

Extramedullary- Tumor outside of the spinal cord but within the dura.

Facet hypertrophy- The facets are bone parts of the vertebrae and laminae. Hypertropy implies overgrowth which may lead to compression of the spinal cord or nerve roots.

Fibrosis– Scar tissue formation.

GBM- An astrocytoma which is malignant. Astrocytoma are graded from 1-4. GBM is a grade 4 astrocytoma.

Hemangioblastoma- T umor is benign but vascular. It is composed of blood vessels. Treatment involves surgical removal.

Hyperesthesia- Hypersensitive sensations of the body.

Intradural- The space within the confines of the dura, the tough lining of the spinal cord.

Intramedullary- Tumor within the spinal cord substance.

Laminectomy- Procedure surgeons do to remove the laminae (portion of the vertebral body)

Lamintomy- Removal and replacement of the laminae.

Lipoma- Tumor composed of adipose tissue, fat, which may involve the spinal cord.

Lumbar- Part of the spinal column from midback to the bottom.

Mayfield Headholder- Head holder with 3-pins to position the head when the patient is turned on the stomach for spinal surgery. Used only for cervical and thoracic tumors.

MRI- Magnetic resonance imaging. Machine which obtains pictures similar to a CT scan, but much more detail.

Muscle fasciculations- The twitching which may be seen in certain muscle groups.

Myelography- Contrast dye injected into the subarachnoid space to image the spine. Used many years ago prior to the advent to MRI machines.

Myelomalacia- The process of the spinal cord atrophy.

Myelopathy- Syndrome where patients have increased reflexed and spastic gait.

Neurophysiology- The discipline which deals with the monitoring of motor and sensory pathways.

Paraspinous- The region next to the spinous process or vertebral bodies.

Paresthesias- Numbness or altered sensation.

Peripheral- Pertaining to or situated at or near the periphery, situated away from a center or central structure.

Proprioception- Part of the nervous system which deals with the location of the extremity, i.e. fingers, hand, toes or foot. (Proprioception, refers to knowing where ones leg (foot) or arm (hand) is in relationship to space).

Pseuedomeningocele- Fluid collection following surgery which is outside the spinal cord within the muscles and underneath the skin.

Sagittal sequence & Axial sequence- These are the image planes, horizontal and vertical when an MRI is performed.

Sensory evoked potentials- The recordings performed by a neurophysiologists which monitors the sensory pathways.

Schwannoma- A benign tumor which arises from a nerve root.

Scoliosis- Abnormal curvature of the spine, levo and dextro define the rotation either to the left or right.

Spinal angiography- Radiology test to roadmap the blood vessels to the spinal cord and tumor. Similar to a coronary angiogram.

Subarachnoid– Space within the dura which houses the spinal fluid. It is between the spinal cord and dura.

Subluxation- Slip of one vertebral body on another, this maybe forward or posterior.

Syringomyelia- Fluid within the spinal cord, this must be differentiated from a cyst. Syrinx is similar to syringomyelia

TENS unit- ( Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve ) A method of producing electroanalgesia throughelectrodes applied to the skin.

Tethering- When the spinal cord is stuck to the dura or other tissue.


***** Try this online medical dictionary if you cannot locate the term above *****