Spondylolisthesis

Definition of the Spondylolisthesis

Spondylolisthesis, commonly referred to as Slipped vertebra, is a segmental instability of two vertebrae. Depending on the severity of the displacement, neurological structures may be pinched. Leg pain or paralysis of lower leg muscles may occur.

Cause: Malformation or degeneration

Spondylsisthesis can be caused by an inherent malformation or age-related degeneration of the spine.

Seldom, stress fractures in active athletes (e.g. rowing, gymnastics) or acute fractures can also cause a slipped vertebra.

Symptoms

Common symptoms are acute back pain (lumbago) and, at a later stage, leg pain upon walking (claudication), similar to the symptoms of spinalstenosis.

Treatment

Less severe can be treated conservatively, i.e. chiropractic treatment, physical therapy or epidural injections.
Failure of conservative therapy or more severe symptoms may require surgery.
Surgical treatment decompresses the spinal canal and reduces the slipped vertebra by a fusion of the involved spinal segments. (Spondylodesis)

Post-surgical course

Patients stay hospitalized approximately one week. Rehabilitation exercise can be started the day after surgery.

Results

Surgical treatment achieves good to very good results. Patients suffer from considerably less back and leg pain. Quality of life is remarkably enhanced by the fact that walking pain will be absent.
On seldom occations, hematoma formations or impaired wound healing may require revision surgery.
Complications, such as paralysis or infections, are rare.
There is a chance that spinal stenosis may reappear years later.