Spondylolisthesis denotes the slippage of one vertebra relative to the one below. Spondylolisthesis can occur anywhere but is most frequent, particularly when due to spondylolysis, at L5/S1 and to a lesser degree L4/L5. 


Although etymologically it is directionless (see below) and could be applied to both anterolisthesis and retrolisthesis, in practice, however, spondylolisthesis is used synonymously with anterolisthesis. Often, particularly in the lower lumbar spine, it is due to spondylolysis (pars interarticularis defects) 6

To adequately describe a spondylisthesis, both the type (see the classification of spondylolisthesis) and grade (see grading of spondylolisthesis) need to be stated. 

History and etymology

Spondylolisthesis is from the Ancient Greek spondylous (σπονδύλους) meaning vertebra and listhesis (ολίσθηση) meaning slippage 6

Spinal trauma

Article information

rID: 12357
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:

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Cases and figures

  • Figure 1: grading I - V
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  • Case 1: L5/S1 - grade II
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  • Case 2: L4/5 - grade III
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  • Case 3: L4/5 - grade II
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  • Case 4: L5/S1- grade II
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  • Case 5: L4/5 - grade I
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  • Case 6: grade IV
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