Disc herniation

Dr Ian Bickle and A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

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 fibres intact
  • extrusion
    • base (a.k.a. neck) narrower than herniation 'dome'
    • may extend above or bellow 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
    • with intact outer fibers of annulus fibrosus and posterior longitudinal ligament, or
    • with intact posterior longitudinal ligament alone 
  • not contained
    • tear of outer fibers of annulus fibrosus and posterior longitudinal ligament

See also

Spine
Share article

Article information

rID: 6191
Sections: Anatomy, Signs
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Disc herniations

Support Radiopaedia and see fewer ads

Cases and figures

  • Drag
    Normal
    Figure 1: normal
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    A focal disc prot...
    Figure 2: disc extrusion
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Figure 3: disc protrusion
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Figure 4: disc extrusion
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Drag
    Figure 5: disc sequestration
    Drag here to reorder.
  • Updating… Please wait.
    Loadinganimation

    Alert accept

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

    Alert accept Thank you for updating your details.