Last revised by Calum Worsley on 8 Oct 2023

Spondylolisthesis (plural: spondylolistheses) denotes the slippage of one vertebra relative to the one below. 

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

Spondylolisthesis can occur anywhere in the vertebral column but is most frequent in the lumbar spine, particularly when due to spondylolysis at L5/S1 ref, and when due to degeneration at L4/5 7

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

Spondylolisthesis is from the Ancient Greek σπονδύλους (spondylous) meaning vertebra and ολίσθηση (olisthesis) meaning slippage 6Carl von Rokitansky, (1804-1878), an Austrian pathologist, was the first to describe spondylolisthesis in 1839 8.

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