New Lumbar Disc Nomenclature

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This article comprises a review of the literature pertaining to the normal and pathological lumbar disc and the compilation of a standardized nomenclature.

Objective. To provide a resource that promotes a clear understanding of lumbar disc terminology among clinicians, radiologists, and researchers.

Summary of Background Data. The article “Nomenclature and Classification of Lumbar Disc Pathology. Recommendations of the Combined Task Forces of the North American Spine Society, American Society of Spine Radiology and American Society of Neuroradiology” was published in 2001 in Spine © Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins1 and formally endorsed by the 3 boards. Its purpose, which it served for well over a decade, was to promote greater clarity and consistency of usage of spine terminology. Since 2001, there has been sufficient evolution in our understanding of the lumbar disc to suggest the need for revision and updating. The document represents the consensus recommendations of the current combined task forces and reflects changes consistent with current concepts in radiological and clinical care.

Methods. A PubMed search was performed for literature pertaining to the lumbar disc. The task force members individually and collectively reviewed the literature and revised the 2001 document. It was then reviewed by the governing boards of the American Society of Spine Radiology, the American Society of Neuroradiology, and the North American Spine Society. After further revision based on their feedback, the paper was approved for publication.

Results. The article provides a discussion of the recommended diagnostic categories and a glossary of terms pertaining to the lumbar disc, a detailed discussion of the terms and their recommended usage, as well as updated illustrations and literature references.

Conclusion. We have revised and updated a document that, since 2001, has provided a widely accepted nomenclature that helps maintain consistency and accuracy in the description of the properties of the normal and abnormal lumbar discs and that serves as a system for classification and reporting built upon that nomenclature.

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