Allograft Bone – Sterile bone derived from another human used in grafting procedures.

Anterior – The front portion of the body, often used to describe the position of one structure relative to another.

Annulus Fibrosus – The outer, fibrous, ring-like portion of an intervertebral disc.

Anterolateral – Situated or occurring in front of and to the side.

Arthritis – Inflammation of a joint characterized by swelling, pain, and restricted motion.

Arthrodesis – The fusion of bones across a joint space, limiting or eliminating movement, either spontaneously or through surgical procedures like spine fusion.

Arthropathy – Any disease or disorder involving a joint.

Arthroplasty – The surgical remodeling of a diseased or damaged joint.

Arthroscope – An instrument inserted into a joint cavity to view the interior and correct abnormalities, functioning as an endoscope.

Arthroscopy – The procedure of visualizing the inside of a joint using an arthroscope.

Articular – Pertaining to a joint.

Autogenous Bone – Bone originating from the same individual.

Autograft Bone – Bone transplanted from one part to another within the same individual.


Backbone – Synonymous with the spine.

Bioabsorbable Polymer – A substance, like certain plastics, that the human body can break down and absorb.

Biocompatibility – A characteristic of some materials that, when inserted into the body, does not produce a significant rejection or immune response.

Biodegradation – The breakdown of organic materials into simple chemicals commonly found in the body.

Bone – Hard tissue providing structural support, primarily composed of hydroxyapatite crystals and collagen.

Bone Derivative – Substances extracted from bone, such as bone morphogenic proteins (BMP).

Bone Graft – Bone harvested from one location and placed in another individual (allograft bone) or in a different location within the same individual (autogenous bone).

Bone Marrow – Tissue within the internal cavities of bones, responsible for producing red blood cells.

Bone Plate – A thin metal device affixed to bone with screws to immobilize bone fragments.

Bone Screw – A threaded metal device inserted into bone to immobilize fragments or affix other medical devices.


Cadaver – A deceased human body preserved for anatomical study.

Cancellous Bone – Spongy bone found at the ends of long bones.

Cartilage – Hard, thin tissue covering the ends of bones at a joint, allowing motion with minimal friction.

Centrum – The body of a vertebra.

Cervical – The neck region of the spine, containing the first seven vertebrae.

Chemonucleolysis – A treatment injecting chymopapain to dissolve part of an intervertebral disc.

Clinical Studies – Controlled evaluations involving patients, often required by the FDA before releasing a medical device or compound.

Cobalt-Chrome – An alloy used in surgical implants, including cobalt, chromium, and molybdenum.

Coccyx – The tailbone, the region below the sacrum.

Collagen – A fibrous protein found in connective tissue, such as skin, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, and bones.

Comminuted Fracture – A fracture where bone breaks into more than two pieces.

Cortical Bone – Dense bone forming the outer surface.


De-mineralized Bone – Bone tissue depleted of minerals, such as calcium and phosphorous.

Disc (Intervertebral) – The elastic structure between spinal vertebrae, comprising an outer annulus fibrosus and inner nucleus pulposus.

Disc Degeneration – The loss of structural and functional integrity of the intervertebral disc.

Discectomy – Surgical removal of part or all of an intervertebral disc.

Distal – Situated away from the center of the body.


Endogenous – Arising within or derived from the body.

Endoscope – A medical device for viewing internal body structures, often comprised of fiber optic tubes and video display instruments.

Endoscopy – Inspection of internal body structures or cavities using an endoscope.

Epidural – Situated outside the dural membrane surrounding the brain and spinal cord.

Excision – Removal by cutting away material.

Exogenous – Originating outside the body.


Facet – A posterior structure of a vertebra articulating with an adjacent vertebra to form a facet joint.

Facetectomy – Excision of a facet.

Fatigue Fracture – A fracture resulting from repeated stress rather than a single injury.

Fibrosis – The replacement of normal tissue with scar tissue.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – A federal agency regulating drugs, medical devices, and foods.

Foramen – A natural opening or passage in bone.

Fracture – A disruption in the normal continuity of bone.

Fusion – Union or healing of bone, often through surgical procedures like arthrodesis.


Herniated Disc – Extrusion of part of the nucleus pulposus through a defect in the annulus fibrosus.

Heterotopic Bone Formation – The occurrence of bone growth in an abnormal location.

Hook – In spinal applications, a metallic device connecting spinal structures to a rod.

Hydroxyapatite (HA) – The lattice-like structure of bone composed of calcium and phosphorous crystals.


Iliac Bone – A part of the pelvic bone often used for autogenous bone grafts.

Iliac Crest – The large portion of the pelvic bone at the belt line.

Immobilization – Limitation of motion or fixation of a body part to promote healing.

Intervertebral Disc – See Disc (Intervertebral).

In vitro – Describing biological phenomena occurring outside the living body, traditionally in a test tube.

In vivo – Within a living body.

Inferior – Situated below or directed downward.

Informed Consent – Consent from a patient with sufficient information for surgery, medication, or participation in a clinical study.

Institutional Review Board (IRB) – A committee reviewing and approving research projects in an institution.

Internal Fixation – Immobilization of bone fragments or joints with implants to promote healing.

Investigational Device Exemption (IDE) – FDA status permitting the use of an unapproved medical device for collecting clinical data.


Joint – The junction of two or more bones allowing varying degrees of motion.


Kyphosis – An abnormal increase in the normal kyphotic curvature of the thoracic spine.


Lamina – An anatomical portion of a vertebra connecting the pedicles to the spinous process.

Laminectomy – Removal of part or all of the lamina of a vertebra, often to remove an intervertebral disc protrusion or decompress a nerve root.

Laser – Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, used in surgery to operate on small areas.

Lateral – Situated away from the midline of the body.

Ligament – A fibrous band of tissue connecting bone to bone.

Lordosis – An abnormal increase in the normal lordotic curvature of the lumbar spine.

Lumbago – A non-medical term for pain in the lumbar region.

Lumbar – The lower part of the spine between the thoracic region and the sacrum.


Medial – Situated closer to the midline of the body.

Medical Device Report (MDR) – Required reporting of medical device complaints involving death, serious injury, or device malfunction.

Minimally Invasive Surgery – Surgery requiring small incisions, usually performed with endoscopic visualization.


Neurosurgery – The surgical specialty treating disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.

Nerve Root – The portion of a spinal nerve near its origin from the spinal cord.

Neural Arch – The bony arch of the posterior aspect of a vertebra surrounding the spinal cord.

Non-Union – Failure of fractured bone fragments to heal or achieve bony fusion.

Nucleus Pulposus – The semi-gelatinous tissue in the center of an intervertebral disc.


Orthopaedics (Orthopedics) – The medical specialty preserving and restoring musculoskeletal system function.

Orthopaedic Implants – Devices used to replace or provide fixation of bone or articulate surfaces of a

Ossification – The process of forming bone in the body.

Osteoporosis – A disorder characterized by abnormally brittle and less dense bone, resulting from various diseases and abnormalities.


Pathology – The study of disease states.

Pedicle – The part of each side of the neural arch of a vertebra connecting the lamina with the vertebral body.

Periosteum – A fibrous membrane covering bone surfaces, except at joint ends where cartilage is present.

Physical Therapy – Treatment involving specific body part exercises to strengthen, regain range of motion, and rehabilitate the musculoskeletal system.

Physiology – The science of the functioning of living organisms and their component systems or parts.

Posterior – Located behind a structure, referring to the back side of the human body.

Powered Surgical Instruments – Instruments powered by compressed air or electricity used in surgery to cut, drill, or remove bone and cartilage.

Pre-Clinical Studies – Tests occurring before clinical studies, often in vitro or in vivo involving animals, to determine safety and efficacy of test materials.

Premarket Notification [510(k)] – A regulatory method for FDA clearance to market a device, comparing it to a commercially available device before May 28, 1976.

Premarket Approval (PMA) – A regulatory method for FDA clearance of Class III medical devices, requiring submission of safety and effectiveness information.

Prosthesis – An artificial body part, like an artificial leg or arm, and can also refer to some body implants such as hip or knee replacements.

Proximal – Nearest the center of the body.

Pseudoarthrosis (Pseudarthrosis) – A form of non-union where a false joint forms with cartilage covering bone ends and a cavity containing fluid, resembling a normal joint.


Resection – Surgical removal of part of a structure, such as bone.

Resorption – The removal of bone tissue, either as a normal physiological process or as part of a pathological process like infection.

Rod – In spinal applications, a slender metal implant used to immobilize and align the spine.

Ruptured Disc – See Herniated Disc.


Sacrum – Part of the spine and pelvis, articulating with the ilia at sacroiliac joints and lumbar spine at the lumbosacral joint.

Sciatica – Lay term for pain along the course of the sciatic nerve, often felt in the back of the thigh and below the knee.

Scoliosis – Lateral curvature of the spine.

Sepsis – Infection of tissue due to disease-producing bacteria or toxins.

Skeleton – The rigid framework of bones giving form to the body, protecting and supporting organs and tissues, and providing muscle attachments.

Spinal Canal – The bony channel formed by vertebrae intravertebral foramen, containing the spinal cord and nerve roots.

Spinal Column – See Spine.

Spinal Cord – The longitudinal cord of nerve tissue enclosed in the spinal canal, serving as a pathway for nervous impulses to and from the brain.

Spinal Disc – See Disc (Intervertebral).

Spinal Fusion – A surgical procedure permanently joining bone, interconnecting two or more vertebrae to prevent motion.

Spinal Stenosis – Reduction in the spinal canal diameter due to new bone formation, causing pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots.

Spine – The flexible bone column extending from the skull base to the tailbone, made up of 33 vertebrae with intervertebral discs, ligaments, and muscles.

Spinous Process – The posterior protruding portion of the vertebrae, creating the “bumps” felt on the midline of the back.

Spondylitis – Inflammation of vertebrae.

Spondylolisthesis – A defect between superior and inferior facet bones causing vertebrae and the spine above it to displace forward relative to vertebrae below. Typically due to developmental defects or fractures.

Spondylolysis – Displacement of one vertebra over another with a fracture of a posterior portion, often due to developmental defects or fractures.

Stainless Steel – Iron-based metal containing chromium, highly resistant to stain, rust, and corrosion. Commonly used in surgical implants and instruments.

Sterile – Free from living organisms.

Sterilization – A method rendering a material free from living organisms, such as steam, gas, or ionizing radiation.

Superior – Situated above or directed upward toward the head.


Tendon – A fibrous band of tissue connecting muscle to bone, mainly composed of collagen.

Third Party Payor – The source of reimbursement or payment for medical services when patients don’t make direct payments, such as insurance companies, government agencies, or employers.

Thoracic – The chest level spine region between cervical and lumbar vertebrae, consisting of 12 vertebrae serving as rib attachment points.

Titanium – A metallic element used to make surgical implants.

Toxicology – The study of the toxic or harmful effects of substances on the body.

Transplant – The implantation of bone tissue from one part of the body to another or the transfer of an organ from one individual to another.


Vertebra – One of the 33 spinal column bones, with a cylindrical-shaped bony anterior and neural arch posterior. A cervical, thoracic, or lumbar vertebra has these structures, protecting the spinal cord. The plural is vertebrae.


Wire – Metal thread used in surgery to transfix fractured bone, available in various diameters and stiffness.


Xenograft – A graft derived from one species for use in another species.


  • Code of Federal Regulations, Food and Drug, 21, Parts 800-1299. Washington: Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Administration, 1990.
  • Dorland’s Illustrated Medical Dictionary. Philadelphia, PA: W.B. Saunders Company, 1965.
  • Glossary of Spinal Terminology. Park Ridge, IL: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 1985.
  • Viscogliosi, A. A. An Investor’s guide to Orthopedic Terms. In M.R. Viscogliosi (Ed.), New York, NY: Martin Simpson & Company, Inc., 1992.
  • Webster’s Medical

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