Missed our latest free live-stream? Catch up now with Head & Neck Imaging Pearls by Christine Glastonbury

Disc herniation

Disc herniation refers to the displacement of intervertebral disc material beyond the normal confines of the disc but involving less than 25% of the circumference (to distinguish it from a disc bulge). A herniation may contain nucleus pulposus, vertebral endplate cartilage, apophyseal bone/osteophyte and annulus fibrosus

Disc herniations can be divided into groups in a variety of ways. Commonly they are divided into protrusion vs extrusion: 

  • protrusion
    • base wider than herniation
    • confined to disc level
    • outer annular fibers intact
  • extrusion
    • base (a.k.a. neck) narrower than herniation 'dome'
    • may extend above or below endplates or adjacent vertebrae
    • complete annular tear with passage of nuclear material beyond disc annulus
    • disc material can then migrate away from annulus or become sequestered

Herniations can further be classified as:

  • contained
  • not contained
    • tear of outer fibers of annulus fibrosus and posterior longitudinal ligament

See also


Article information

rID: 6191
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Herniated disc
  • Herniated disk
  • Herniation of the disk
  • Herniation of the disc
  • Disc herniations
  • Disk herniation
  • Disk herniations

ADVERTISEMENT: Supporters see fewer/no ads

Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: normal
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 2: disc extrusion
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 3: disc protrusion
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 4: disc extrusion
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 5: disc sequestration
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Figure 6: lumbar disc herniation
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.

     Unable to process the form. Check for errors and try again.

     Thank you for updating your details.