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Patient Information Handouts

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Spondylolisthesis is the term used to describe the presence of a spondylolysis where there has also been forward translation of the vertebra with the lysis (usually L5), on the vertebra below (usually the sacrum).

In the majority of cases the degree of anterior translation is slight, but in approximately 20% of cases the displacement of the upper vertebra can be marked.

It can be congenital (born with it) associated with a “pars defect”, degenerative, or traumatic.

The development of a spondylolysis which then goes on to a spondylolisthesis is usually associated with significant low back pain, but in most cases the situation will stabilize and pain will settle.  It is only where severe pain persists, or features of nerve root irritation or compression develop that surgical intervention is indicated at this stage.

In cases where symptoms resolve some activity modification may be required to reduce the risk of exacerbating episodes of pain. It is also General fitness to maintain abdominal musculature tone is important.

If symptoms persist surgical intervention may be considered, and would usually take the form of a spinal fusion.  However despite the often impressive x-ray appearance of this condition surgery of this type is required in less than 20% of cases.


Click here to see the Transforminal Lumbar Interbody Fusion procedure. Click here to see the XLIF Extreme Lateral Lumbar Interbody Fusion procedure.


An abnormal spinal anatomy may result in the following conditions:




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