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Spondylolisthesis, a Greek terminology, is defined as spine spillage. This condition is considered to be the unnatural forward movement of a particular vertebra over the one beneath it. On most occasions, this forward slip of the vertebra takes place in the spine’s lumbar area. This herniation and slippage and of the disc leads to the nerve roots associated with the affected vertebrae being put under pressure, causing dysfunction and pain. There are different types of spondylolisthesis.

Type 1 - Congenital spondylolisthesis

In this circumstance, the slippage is due to an individual born with the abnormality of the posterior bony arch of a spine. This is normally associated with abnormality of the facet joints and can be seen at the L5-S1 level. Patients usually experience intense back pain as result of the spurt caused by adolescent growth. Therefore, MRI and CT scans are required to diagnose this abnormal bone formation (dysplasia).

Type 2 - Isthmic spondylolisthesis

Isthmic spondylolisthesis occurs as a result of a defect in a section of the bone called the pars interarticularis. Structurally, the pars bone connects the upper joint of one vertebra to the lower joint. The stress fracture in individuals with a hereditary tendency (this may be some weakness of the pars at birth or minor abnormality) is usually responsible for the defect. In certain patients, a defect may occur but without any forward slip: this is normally referred to as spondylolysis. This condition itself can be painful.

Type 3 - Degenerative spondylolisthesis

Degenerative spondylolisthesis is regarded as a forward spine slippage, next to arthritis of the spine. Spinal stenosis is often related with this process, and can be seen at L4-L5 level. This is caused by a persistently degenerative disc that leads to the weakness of facet joints in the spine’s back.


For degenerative spondylolisthesis, surgery is usually recommended if slippage continues to worsen or if back pain fails to respond to nonsurgical treatment and impedes daily activities of living. For congenital and high dysplastic type, surgery is performed at early stages to stop neurological complications.


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Ms. Vishmi, Sri Lanka

Miss Vishmi , a 13 years old from Sri Lanka was treated at Apollo Hospitals for Scoliosis following her sister’s surgery.