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  • Writer's pictureDr Josh Bonine DC

Intervertebral Disc Definitions

Intervertebral Disc Anatomy and Definitions



Image Compliments of Medical Legal Art via The Doe Report (www.doereport.com). Copyright © 2010 Medical Legal Art, All rights reserved. In a landmark article written by Fardon and Milette (2001), a combined task force between the North American Spine Society (NASS), the American Society of Spine Radiology (ASSR) and the American Society of Neuroradiology (ASNR) described the development of a consensus on definitions related to pathology of the intervertebral disc. The authors state, “The Board of Directors of NASS, and the Executive Committees of both ASSR and ASNR have endorsed this document, as has the Joint Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS) and Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS) and the CPT and ICD Coding Committee of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS)” (Fardon & Milette, 2001, p. E93). This document continues to be a primary and foundational reference for scholarly works related to the intervertebral disc.


One of the most important definitions to understand when caring for the traumatically injured spine patients is the herniated intervertebral disc. This paper states “Herniation is defined as a localized displacement of disc material beyond the limits of the intervertebral disc space” (Fardon & Milette, 2001, p. E95). They continue by stating, “The term “localized” contrasts to “generalized,” the latter being arbitrarily defined as greater than 50% (180 degrees) of the periphery of the disc” (Fardon & Milette, 2001, p. E95). Therefore, any directional displacement of the disc is a herniation. In layman's terms, a disc herniation occurs when the inside of the intervertebral disc (nucleus pulpous) tears its way through the outer portion of the disc (annulus fibrosis) and into the space where the delicate neural structures reside. This can only be caused from trauma.


Understanding the exact definitions of intervertebral disc pathology is a critical part of determining causal relationships and resultant bodily injury. For more detailed information on this and other definitions please contact the doctor group below.

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Reference:

Fardon, D. F., & Milette, P. C. (2001). 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. Spine, 26(5), p. E93–E113.

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