Glossary

This is a list of terms and abbreviations that you may have come across, with an explanation of what each one means.

anterior = ventral = front

arachnoid mater = meningeal layer between pia mater and dura mater, surrounds brain and spinal cord

cervical = referring to uppermost section of spine, in neck region

Chiari malformation = congenital malformation in which the bottom of the brain (cerebellum) is crowded in the skull cavity, and forces the lower tips of the cerebellar hemi-spheres (tonsils) into the hole in the bottom of the skull (foramen magnum).
(cerebellar tonsils may also be low in patients with spinal CSF leaks, often termed pseudo-Chiari or acquired Chiari)

craniotomy = surgical removal of a section of bone from the skull (cranium) for the purpose of operating on the underlying tissues, usually the brain.

CSF = cerebrospinal fluid = the fluid around the brain (cerebrum) and spine

CT = computed tomography (type of X-ray imaging)

CTA = computed tomography angiogram (CT imaging to visualize arteries)

CTV = computed tomography venogram (CT imaging to visulaize veins)

CTM = CT myelogram

DSM = digital subtraction myelogram

dura = outermost layer of meninges or connective tissue layers that surround brain + spinal cord

EBP = epidural blood patch = injection of blood into epidural space

Elliots B solution = solution comparable in pH, electrolyte composition, glucose content, and osmalarity to cerebrospinal fluid

epidural space = space outside (epi) the dura inside spinal canal

ESI = epidural steroid injection = injection of steroid into epidural space (inadvertent dural puncture may occur)

etiology = cause

fibrin glue = fibrin sealant, surgical sealant derived from pooled human blood and bovine blood

fluoroscopy = X-ray imaging in real time, used for procedures

gadolinium = contrast agent commonly used in magnetic resonance imaging

iatrogenic = inadvertent result of medical treatment or diagnostic test

ICP = intracranial pressure = high pressure inside the head (cranium)

intracranial hypertension = high (hyper) pressure inside the head (cranium)

intracranial hypotension = low (hypo) pressure inside the head (cranium)

intrathecal space = subarachnoid space = space under arachnoid layer of meninges, around brain and spinal cord which contains CSF

laminectomy = surgical removal of all or a portion of the lamina section of a vertebral bone

LP = lumbar puncture

LP shunt = lumbar-peritoneal shunt = catheter that diverts CSF from the lumbar region of the spine to the abdominal cavity (peritoneal space), usually with a valve-like device

lumbar = referring to lower section of spine, lower back region

meningitis = inflammation of meninges (may be chemical or infectious)

MRA = magnetic resonance angiogram (MR imaging of arteries)

MRI = magnetic resonance imaging

MRM = magnetic resonance myelogram (MR imaging of spine and spinal canal)

MRV = magnetic resonance venogram (MR imaging of veins)

myelogram = spinal imaging that involves the injection of contrast into the intrathecal space
(exception: MR myelography can be done with or without intrathecal contrast injection)

neurologist = medical specialist in diseases of brain, spinal cord and nerves

neuropathy = peripheral nerve damage to sensory, motor or autonomic nerves that results in symptoms such as numbness, tingling, pain, weakness; many causes, including compression, injury, metabolic causes (like diabetes), toxins, drugs, nutritional deficiencies.

neuroradiologist = medical specialist in neurologic radiology (imaging)

neurosurgeon = surgical specialist in diseases of brain and spine

OP = opening pressure = measurement of CSF pressure at time of lumbar puncture

orthostatic = related to upright posture

papilledema = swelling of the optic disc, visible on ophthalmoscopic examination of the eye, caused by increased intracranial pressure

pia mater = innermost meningeal layer surrounding brain and spinal cord

perineural cyst = cerebrospinal fluid filled cyst of a nerve root sleeve along the spine

phonophobia = sensitivity to sound

photophobia = sensitivity to light

pituitary hyperemia = pituitary gland in head is engorged with fluid

posterior = dorsal = back

POTS = postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome = a type of autonomic dysfunction recognized by increased heart rate with assuming upright posture

prone = face-down horizontal position

radicular = pertaining to a nerve root distribution

radiculopathy = compression or irritation of a nerve root which results in symptoms of numbness, pain and/or weakness

sacral = referring to the lowest section of spine, in pelvic region, below lumbar section

sacrum = referring to the five fused sacral vertebrae below the lumbar region.

scoliosis = abnormal curvature of the spine

SIH = spontaneous intracranial hypotension = spontaneous low (hypo) pressure inside the head (cranium)

subarachnoid space = intrathecal space = space under arachnoid layer of meninges, around brain and spinal cord which contains CSF

supine = face-up horizontal position

syringomyelia = disorder involving a fluid-filled cavity within the spinal cord

Tarlov cyst = perineural cyst (see above) occuring most often in the sacral region of the spine

thecal sac = dural sac containing CSF and spinal cord

thoracic = section of spine in upper back region

Trendelenburg = supine with feet higher than head

valsalva = forced effort to exhale with closed airway (either closed glottis or closed mouth and nose), which results in increased venous pressure in the chest, spine as well as intracranial pressure

vertebra = individual bone of the spine or vertebral column

VP shunt = ventriculoperitoneal shunt = catheter that drains CSF from the lateral ventricle of the brain to the abdominal cavity (peritoneal space), usually with a valve-like device