of Neurosurgical Terms
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ABCESS - A circumscribed collection of pus.
ACOUSTIC NEURINOMAS -
Benign tumor of the hearing nerve (eighth nerve).
ACROMEGALY - Disorder
marked by progressive enlargement of the head, face, hands,
feet, and thorax, due to the excessive secretion of growth
ADENOMA - A benign
growth formed of glandular tissue.
AGNOSIA - Absence of the
ability to recognize the form and nature of persons and
AGRAPHIA - Loss of the
power of writing due either to muscular incoordination or to
an inability to phrase thought.
AMAUROSIS - Loss of
vision without discoverable lesion in the eye structures or
optic nerve. Amaurosis fugax - temporary blindness occurring
in short periods.
AMENORRHEA - Absence of
the menses due to causes other than pregnancy or advancing
AMNESIA - Loss of memory
caused by brain damage or by severe emotional trauma.
ANALGESIA - Loss of
sensibility to pain, loss of response to a painful stimulus.
ANAPLASIA - In the case
of a body cell, a reversion to a more primitive condition. A
term used to denote the alteration in cell character which
ANASTOMOSIS - A
communication, direct or indirect: A joining together. In
the nervous system a jointing of nerves or blood vessels.
Physician who administers pain-killing medications during
ANENCEPHALY - Absence of
the greater part of the brain, often with skull deformity.
ANESTHESIA - Loss of
sensation of a body part; or of the body when induced by the
administration of a drug.
Physician who administers pain-killing medications during
- Dilation of an artery, formed by a circumscribed
enlargement of its wall. Saccular (berry) aneurysm -
sac-like bulging on one side of an artery usually arising at
an arterial branching.
- a study which shows the blood vessels leading to and in
the brain by injecting a dye or contrast substance through a
catheter placed in the artery in the leg.
- Radiography of blood vessels using the injection of
material opaque to x-rays to give better definition to the
ANOREXIA - Loss of
appetite; a condition marked by loss of appetite leading to
ANOSMIC - Without the
sense of smell.
ANOXIA - Total lack of
ANTI-COAGULANT - A
medication that prevents coagulation of the blood.
ANTIDIURETIC - An agent
which reduces the output of urine. Antidiuretic hormone
(ADH) is formed in the hypothalamus and stored in the
posterior pituitary gland. Its secretion reduces urine
APHASIA - Difficulty
with, or loss of use of language, in any of several ways
including reading, writing or speaking. Failure of
understanding of the written, printed or spoken word not
related to intelligence but to specific lesions in the
APNEA - Cessation of
respiration; inability to get one's breath.
APOPLEXY - A sudden
event. Often used as equivalent to stroke.
ARACHNOID - Middle layer
of membranes covering the brain and spinal cord.
Inflammation of the arachnoid membrane, most commonly seen
within the spinal cord around the spinal cord and cauda
AREA - (Cortical) - A
part of the brain having a special function as in
- Motor a. - The cortical
portion of the brain controlling movement.
- Sensory a. - The cortical
portion, controlling sensation.
ARTERIOGRAPHY - See
Thickening and calcification of the arterial wall with loss
of elasticity and contractility.
ARTERIOVENOUS - Relating
to both arteries and veins.
- Collection of blood vessels with one or several abnormal
communications between arteries and veins which may cause
hemorrhage or seizures.
- Cell which supports the nerve cells (neurons) of the brain
and spinal cord.
- Tumor within the substance of the brain or spinal cord
made up of astrocytes - often classified from Grade I
(slow-growing) to Grade III (rapid-growing).
ATAXIA - A loss of
muscular coordination, abnormal clumsiness.
ATHETOSIS - A condition
in which there is a succession of slow, writhing,
involuntary movements of the fingers and hands, and
sometimes of the toes and feet.
ATROPHY - A wasting of
the tissues of a body part.
AUTONOMIC NERVOUS SYSTEM
- Involuntary nervous system, also termed the vegetative
nervous system. A system of nerve cells whose activities are
beyond voluntary control.
AVASCULAR - Non-vascular, not provided with blood
AXON - The part of a nerve cell that usually sends
signals to other nerves or structures.
BACTERICIDAL - Causing
the death of bacteria.
Inhibiting or retarding the growth of bacteria.
BELL'S PALSY - Paralysis
of facial muscles (usually one side) due to facial nerve
dysfunction of unknown cause.
BIOPSY - Removal of a
small portion of tissue, usually for the purpose of making a
The barrier which exists between the blood and the
cerebrospinal fluid which prevents the passage of various
substances from the bloodstream to the brain.
BRADYCARDIA - Slowness
of the heart rate.
BRADYKINESIA - Slowness
- Loss of sensation of touch, position sense, and movement
on the side of a spinal cord lesion, with loss of pain
sensation on the other side. Caused by a lesion limited to
one side of spinal cord.
CARCINOMA - Cancer, a
malignant growth of epithelial or gland cells.
CAROTID ARTERY - Large
artery on either side of the neck which supplies most of the
CAROTID SINUS - Slight
dilatation on the common carotid artery at its bifurcation
containing nerve cells sensitive to blood pressure.
Stimulation can cause slowing of the heart, vasodilatation
and a fall in blood pressure.
CARPAL TUNNEL - Space
under a ligament in wrist through which the median nerve
enters the palm of the hand.
- (computed tomography scan): A diagnostic imaging technique
in which a computer reads x-rays to create a
three-dimensional map of soft tissue or bone.
- a small tube used to inject a dye to see the blood
vessles, similar to that used for looking at vessels in the
CAUDA EQUINA - The
bundle of spinal nerve roots arising from the end of the
spinal cord and filling the lower part of the spinal
canal(from approximately the thoraco-lumbar junction down).
- part of the basal ganglia which are brain cells that lie
deep in the brain.
CEREBELLUM - The lower
part of the brain which is beneath the posterior portion of
the cerebrum and regulates unconscious coordination of
- Water-like fluid produced in the brain that circulates
around and protects the brain and spinal cord.
CEREBRUM - The principal
portion of the brain, which occupies the major portion of
the interior of the skull and controls conscious movement,
sensation and thought.
CERVICAL - Of or
relating to the neck.
CHIASM (OPTIC) - Crossing of visual fibers as they
head toward the opposite side of the brain. For each optic
nerve most of the visual fibers cross to the opposite side,
some run directly backward on each side without crossing.
CHOREA - A disorder,
usually of childhood, characterized by irregular, spasmodic
involuntary movements of the limbs or facial muscles.
- A vascular structure in the ventricles of the brain which
produces cerebrospinal fluid.
COCCYX - The small bone
at the end of the spinal column in man, formed by the fusion
of four rudimentary vertebrae. The "tail bone".
COMA - A state of
profound unconsciousness from which one cannot be roused.
TOMOGRAPHY (CT) SCAN- A diagnostic imaging technique in
which a computer reads x-rays to create a three-dimensional
map of soft tissue or bone.
CONCUSSION - A
disruption, usually temporary, of neurological function
resulting from a blow or violent shaking.
CONTRAST MEDIUM - Any
material (usually opaque to x-rays) employed to delineate or
define a structure during a radiologic procedure.
CONTUSION - A bruise; an
area in which blood that has leaked out of blood vessels is
mixed with brain tissue.
CORONAL SUTURE - The
line of junction of the frontal bones and the parietal bones
of the skull.
CORTEX - The external
layer of gray matter covering the hemispheres of the
cerebrum and cerebellum.
- The part of the skull that holds the brain.
CRANIECTOMY - Excision
of a portion of the skull.
Congenital tumor arising from the embryonic duct between the
brain and pharynx.
CRANIOPLASTY - The
operative repair of a defect of the skull.
Premature closure of cranial sutures, limiting or distorting
the growth of the skull.
CRANIOTOMY - Opening of
the skull, usually by creating a flap of bone.
CSF - Cerebrospinal
DEPRESSED SKULL FRACTURE
- A break in the bones of the head in which some bone is
pushed inward, possibly pushing on or cutting into the
DIABETES INSIPIDUS -
Excretion of large amounts of urine of low specific gravity.
The inability to concentrate urine.
DIFFUSE AXONAL INJURY -
Damage to the axons of many nerve cells that lie in
different parts of the brain.
DIFFUSE BRAIN INJURY -
Damage to the brain that can affect many parts of the brain,
often in a subtle fashion; eaxamples include diffuse axonal
injury and inadequate blood flow.
Dilantin; a medication used to control seizures.
DIPLOPIA - Double
vision, due usually to weakness or paralysis of one or more
of the extra-ocular muscles.
DISC - The
intervertebral disc - cartilaginous cushion found between
the vertebrae of the spinal column. It may bulge beyond the
vertebral body and compress the nearby nerve root, causing
pain. The terms "slipped disc", "ruptured disc" and
"herniated disc" are often used interchangeably even though
there are subtle differences.
- the round balloon like portion of the aneurysm which
usually arises from the artery from a smaller portion called
the neck of the aneurysm.
- A non-invasive study which uses sound waves to show the
flow in a blood vessel and can be used to determine the
degree of narrowing (percent stenosis) of the vessel. A wand
is placed on the skin over the vessel to be imaged. This
study has no risks and is not painful.
DURA - Dura mater.
DURA MATER - A tough
fibrous membrane which covers the brain and spinal cord, but
is separated from them by a small space.
DYSESTHESIA - A
condition in which a disagreeable sensation is produced by
ordinary touch, temperature or movement.
DYSPHASIA - Difficulty
in the use of language due to a brain lesion without mental
DYSTONIA MUSCULORM DEFORMANS
- An affliction occurring especially in children, marked by
muscular contractions producing distortions of the spin and
EDEMA - An excessive
accumulation of fluid generally in extracellular.
- The study of the electrical currents set up by brain
actions; the record made is called an electroencephalogram.
ELECTROMYOGRAPHY (EMG) -
A method of recording the electrical currents generated in a
muscle during its contraction.
ENDARTERECTOMY - Removal
of fatty or cholesterol plaques and calcified deposits from
the internal wall of an artery.
ENDOCRINE GLAND - A
gland which furnishes an internal secretion, usually having
an effect on another organ.
ENDOCRINOPATHY - Any
disease due to abnormality of quantity or quality in one or
more of the internal gladular secretions.
EPENDYMA - The membrane
lining the cerebral ventricles of the brain and central
canal of the spinal cord.
EPENDYMOMA - A growth in
the brain or spinal cord arising from ependymal tissue.
EPIDURAL - Immediately
outside the dura mater. Same as extradural.
EPIDURAL HEMATOMA - A
blood clot between the dura mater and the inside of the
EPILEPSY - Disorder
characterized by abnormal electrical discharges in the
brain, causing abnormal sensation, movement or level of
FALX (CEREBRI) - An
extension of dura between the right and left hemispheres of
FONTANELLE - Normal
openings in he skull of infants; the largest of these is the
anterior fontanel or "soft spot" in the middle of the head.
FORAMINOTOMY - Surgical
opening or enlargement of the bony opening traversed by a
nerve root as it leaves the spinal canal.
- a sausage-like enlargement of the vessel
GALACTORRHEA - The
discharge of milk from the breasts.
- Equipment that precisely delivers a concentrated dose of
radiation to a predetermined target using gamma rays.
GCS - Glasgow Coma
GLASGOW COMA SCALE - The
most widely used system of classifying the severity of head
injuries or other neurologic diseases.
GLASGOW OUTCOME SCALE -
A widely used system of classifying outcome after head
injury or other neurologic diseases.
GLIA (Also termed
neuroglia) - The major support cells of the brain. These
cells are involved in the nutrition and maintenance of the
GLIOMA - A tumor formed
by glial cells.
GLIOBLASTOMA - A rapidly
growing tumor composed of primitive glial cells, mainly
arising from astrocytes.
- part of the basal ganglia which are brain cells that lie
deep in the brain.
HEMANGIOMA - An
aggregation of multiple, dilated, blood vessels.
HEMATOMA - A blood clot.
HEMIANOPSIA - Loss of
vision of one-half of the visual field.
HEMIATROPHY - Atrophy of
half of an organ or half of the body.
HEMIPLEGIA - Paralysis of one side of the body.
- Bleeding due to the escape of blood from a blood vessel.
HERNIATED NUCLEUS PULPOSUS
- Extrusion of the central portion of an intervertebral disc
through the outer cartilaginous ring. The material can
compress the spinal cord or nerves in or exiting the spinal
HORMONE - A chemical
substance formed in one gland or part of the body and
carried by the blood to another organ which it stimulates to
HYDROCEPHALUS - A
condition, often congenital, marked by abnormal and
excessive accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the
cerebral ventricles. This dilates the ventricles and in
infants and young children causes the head to enlarge.
HYDROMYELIA - Expansion
of the spinal cord due to increased size of the central
canal of the cord which is filled with CSF.
HYPERACUSIS - Abnormal
acuteness of hearing or auditory sensation.
Excessive sensibility to touch, pain or other stimuli.
HYPERTENSION - High
HYPOTHALAMUS - A
collection of specialized nerve cells at the base of the
brain which controls the anterior and posterior pituitary
secretions, and is involved in other basic regulatory
functions such as temperature control and attention.
INFUNDIBULUM - A stalk
extending from the base of the brain to the pituitary gland.
INTRA-AORTIC BALLOON COUNTER PULSATION DEVICE - a
pump which is inserted into the main vessel of the body, the
aorta, to help the heart deliver blood to critical organs
such as the brain or kidneys.
INTRA-ARTERIAL CATHETERIZATION ANGIOGRAPHY - An
invasive study in which a catheter (a small tube) is placed
in the artery and contrast material is injected to which
makes the blood vessels visible on an X-Ray image. The
catheter is inserted in the groin into the femoral artery
(the artery to the leg) through a needle, and is guided into
the arteries in the neck and head. This study is associated
with a very small (less than 0.05 % chance of serious
complications) and requires the patient to lie in bed for
approximately six hours to allow the leg vessel to heal.
INTRACEREBRAL HEMATOMA -
A blood clot within the brain.
INTRACRANIAL PRESSURE (ICP) - The overall pressure
inside the skull.
INTRAOPERATIVE CISTERNOGRAPHY - administration of a
contrast dye into the ventricles which are chambers in the
brain that contain brain fluid.
- Inadequate circulation of blood generally due to a
blockage of an artery.
JUGULAR VEINS - The
major veins on each side of the neck draining blood from the
head towards the heart.
LABYRINTH - The internal
ear, comprising the semi-circular canals, vestibule and
LAMINA - The flattened
or arched part of the vertebral arch, forming the roof of
the spinal canal.
LAMINECTOMY - Excision
of one or more laminae of the vertebrae.
LAMINOTOMY - An opening
made in a lamina.
LEPTOMENINGES - Two thin
layers of fine tissue covering the brain and spinal cord
(The pia mater and arachnoid).
Inflammation of the membranes covering the brain and spinal
Disturbance of the white matter of the brain.
LEUKOENCEPHALITIS - An
inflammation of the white matter of the brain.
- Equipment that precisely delivers a concentrated dose of
radiation to a predetermined target using x-rays.
LIPOMA - A benign fatty
tumor, usually composed of mature fat cells.
LORDOSIS - Curvature of
the spine with the convexity forward.
LUMBAR DRAIN - A device
(usually a long, thin, flexible tube) inserted through the
skin into the cerebrospinal fluid space of the lower back;
provides a method of draining cerebrospinal fluid.
RESONANCE ANGIOGRAPHY (MRA)
- A non-invasive study which is conducted in a Magnetic
Resonance Imager (MRI). The magnetic images are assembled by
a computer to provide an image of the arteries in the head
and neck. No contrast material is needed, but some patients
may experience claustrophobia in the imager.
RESONANCE IMAGING (MRI)
- Diagnostic test that produces three-dimensional images of
body structures using powerful magnets and computer
technology rather than x-rays.
- The nerve formed from the brachial plexus that supplies
muscles in the anterior forearm and thumb, as well as,
sensation of the hand. It may be compressed or trapped at
the wrist in carpal tunnel syndrome.
MEDULLOBLASTOMA - Tumor
composed of medulloblasts which are cells which develop in
the roof of the fourth ventricle (medullary velum).
MENINGES - The three
membranes covering the spinal cord and brain termed dura
mater, arachnoid mater and pia mater.
MENINGIOMA - A firm,
often vascular, tumor arising from the coverings of the
- An infection or inflammation of the membranes covering the
brain and spinal cord.
MENINGOCELE - A
protrusion of the coverings of the spinal cord or brain
through a defect in the skull or vertebral column.
MENINGOENCEPHALITIS - An
inflammation or infection of the brain and meninges.
MENINGOENCEPHALOCELE - A
protrusion of both the meninges and brain tissue through a
MRA - Magnetic Resonance
Angiography. A non-invasive study which is conducted in a
Magnetic Resonance Imager (MRI). The magnetic images are
assembled by a computer to provide an image of the arteries
in the head and neck. No contrast material is needed, but
some patients may experience claustrophobia in the imager.
MRI - Magnetic Resonance
Imaging - Scanning technique for views of the brain or
spinal cord. No radiation is involved, but rather pulsed
magnetic waves are used to delineate the structures within
MYELIN - The fat-like
substance which surrounds the axon of nerve fibers and forms
an insulating material.
MYELOGRAM - An x-ray of
the spinal canal following injection of a contrast material
into the surrounding cerebrospinal fluid spaces.
MYELOPATHY - Any
functional or pathologic disturbance in the spinal cord.
MYELOMENINGOCELE - A
protrusion of the spinal cord and its coverings through a
defect in the vertebral column.
MYOPATHY - Any disease
NEURALGIA - A paroxysmal
pain extending along the course of one or more nerves.
NEURECTOMY - Excision of
part of a nerve.
NEURITIS - Inflammation
of a nerve; may also be used to denote non-inflammatory
nerve lesions of the peripheral nervous system.
NEUROBLASTOMA - Tumor of
sympathetic nervous system origin, found mostly in infants
NEUROFIBROMA - A tumor
of the peripheral nerves due to an abnormal collection of
fibrous and insulating cells.
NEUROFIBROMATOSIS - A
familial condition characterized b y developmental changes
in the nervous system, muscles and skin, marked by numerous
tumors affecting these organ system.
NEUROHYPOPHYSIS - The
posterior lobe of the pituitary gland.
NEUROLYSIS - Removal of
scar or reactive tissue from a nerve or nerve root.
NEUROMA - A tumor or new
growth largely made up of nerve fibers and connective
NEUROPATHY - Any
functional or pathologic disturbance in the peripheral
NYSTAGMUS - Involuntary
rapid movement of the eyes in the horizontal, vertical or
rotary planes of the eyeball.
OCCIPUT - The back part
of the head.
Non-nerve cells, (see glia) forming part of the supporting
structure of the central nervous system.
OLIGODENDROGLIOMA - A
growth of new cells derived from the oligodendroglia.
Paralysis of one or more of the eye muscles.
OSTEOMA - A benign tumor
Inflammation of bone due to infection, which may be
localized or generalized.
PAPILLEDEMA - Swelling
of the optic nerve head, can be seen in the back of the
retina during eye examination.
PARAPLEGIA - Paralysis
of the lower part of the body including the legs.
- Body cavity in which the abdominal organs are situated.
PITUITARY- Gland at base
of the brain which secretes hormones into the blood stream.
Those hormones then regulate other glands including the
thyroid, adrenals and gonads. The "Master Gland".
Inflammation of two or more nerves simultaneously.
PORENCEPHALY - Abnormal
cavity within brain tissue, usually resulting from
outpouching of a lateral ventricle.
POST-ICTAL - State
following a seizure, often characterized by altered function
of the limbs and/or mentation.
Sensation concerning movements of joints and position of the
body in space.
PSEUDOTUMOR CEREBRI -
Raised intracranial pressure, usually causing only headache
and papilledema. No clear underlying structural abnormality.
PUPIL - The black part
of the eye through which light enters; enlarges in dim light
and decreases in size in bright light.
QUADRANTANOPIA - Defect
in vision or blindness in one fourth of the visual field.
QUADRIPLEGIA - Paralysis
of all four limbs.
RACHISCHISIS - Abnormal
congenital opening of the vertebral column.
- A medical doctor who has received advanced training in the
treatment of persons receiving x-ray treatment for an
- A person having a PhD degree who is trained in the science
dealing with the properties, changes and interactions of
- A medical doctor who has received specialized training in
interpreting x-rays, CTs, MRIs and performing angiography.
RADIOTHERAPY - Treatment
of a lesion with radiation.
- a balloon-like outpouching of a vessel (the more common type
SCOTOMA - An area of
decreased vision surrounded by an area of less depressed or
- A tube or device implanted in the body (usually made of
Silastic) to redivert excess CSF away from the brain to
another place in the body.
- A congenital defect of the spine marked by the absence of
a portion of the spine.
SPINAL FUSION -
Operative method of strengthening and limiting motion of the
Can be performed with a variety of metal instruments and
bone grafts, or bone grafts alone.
- Forward displacement of one vertebra on another.
Degenerative bone changes in the spine usually most marked
at the vertebral joints.
STENOSIS - Narrowing.
- Originated from the Greek words stereo meaning
three dimensional and tactos meaning touched.
STEREOTACTIC RADIOSURGERY - The precise delivery of
radiation to a preselected stereotactically localized
STRABISMUS - Deviation
of eye movement which prevents the two eyes from moving in a
- Blood in, or bleeding into, the space under the arachnoid
membrane, most commonly from trauma or from rupture of an
SUBDURAL HEMATOMA - a
collection of blood (clot) trapped under the dura matter,
the outermost membrane surrounding the brain and spinal
SYRINGOMYELIA - A fluid
filled cavity in the spinal cord.
TERATOMA - tumor or
growth made up of several different types of tissue (fat,
bone, muscle, skin).
THROMBUS - A blood clot
attached to the wall of an artery.
- brain cells which lie in the upper part of the brainstem.
TIC DOULOUREUX - (See
- Operative method of reaching the pituitary gland or skull
base traversing the nose and sinuses.
TRIGEMINAL NEURALGIA -
Paroxysmal pain in the face. Pain may be so severe that it
causes an involuntary grimace or "tic". (Tic Douloureux)
ULTRASOUND - The use of
high-frequency sound to create images of internal body
VALVE - Device placed in
a shunt system to regulate the rate and direction of CSF
VASOCONSTRICTION - A
decrease in the diameter of blood vessels.
VASODILATATION - An
increase in the diameter of blood vessels.
VASOPRESSIN - A hormone
secreted by the hypothalamus and stored in the posterior
pituitary which raises blood pressure and increases
reabsorption of water by the kidneys.
VASOPRESSOR - An agent
which constricts the arteries and raises blood pressure.
VASOSPASM - Spasm of
blood vessels, decreasing their diameter.
- The cavities or chambers within the brain which contain
the cerebrospinal fluid. There are two lateral ventricles
and midline third and fourth ventricles.
Inflammation and/or infection of the ventricles.
VENTRICULOGRAM - An xray
study of the ventricles.
VENTRICULOSTOMY - An
opening into the ventricles of the brain, such as by
inserting a small, thin, hollow catheter.
VENTRICULAR DRAINAGE -
Insertion of a small tube into the ventricles to drain
cerebrospinal fluid, usually when pressure is increased.
VERMIS - Middle part of
the cerebellum between the two hemispheres.
VERTEBRA- Any of the
thirty-three bones of the spinal column.
VERTIGO - An abnormal
sensation of rotation or movement of one's self, or the
X-RAY - Application of
electromagnetic radiation to produce a film or picture of a
bone or soft-tissue area of the body.