What is lumbar spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis?

Updated: Jul 08, 2020
  • Author: Beth B Froese, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen Kishner, MD, MHA  more...
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Answer

Kilian, Robert, and Lambl first described spondylolysis accompanied by spondylolisthesis in the literature in the mid-1800s. The number of different spinal abnormalities contributing to development of spondylolisthesis was appreciated only after Naugebauer's anatomic studies in the late 1800s. [1] (See the image below.) Radiographic studies allow visualization and grading of spondylolisthesis but may not always reveal the presence of an isolated spondylolysis (without spondylolisthesis). Most patients with low-grade isthmic spondylolisthesis and degenerative spondylolisthesis can be treated conservatively.

Radiograph of the lumbosacral junction showing a g Radiograph of the lumbosacral junction showing a grade 1 spondylolytic spondylolisthesis at L5-S1.

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