neurotransmitter that allows messages to be passed
from neuron to neuron across a synapse; released
by cholinergic nerves.
acoustic nerve: the eighth cranial nerve responsible for hearing and balance, also known as the vestibulocochlear nerve.
neuroma: a benign, slow growing tumor that forms on the sheath of the eighth cranial nerve. This tumor can cause hearing loss, balance problems, and facial paralysis.
acromegaly: enlargement of the hands, feet or face in adults due to overproduction of growth hormone; often from a growth hormone-secreting pituitary tumor.
acupuncture: an ancient Oriental system of holistic therapy that can be used to control pain by insertion of fine stainless steel needles into specific areas of the body.
acute: a condition of quick onset lasting a short time, opposite of chronic.
adenoma: a tumor that grows from a gland.
adjunct treatment: a treatment given in addition to another to make each work more effectively.
allograft: a portion of living tissue taken from one person (the donor) and implanted in another (the recipient) for the purpose of fusing two tissues together.
ambulate: a term used by medical personnel to describe a patient’s ability to walk or move around by themselves.
analgesics: a medicine that relieves pain without affecting consciousness, the most common of which is aspirin.
anaplastic: when cells divide rapidly and bear little or no resemblance to normal cells in appearance or function.
anastomosis: the connection of normally separate parts or spaces so they intercommunicate, as between two blood vessels.
anesthesia dolorosa: constant pain felt in an area of total numbness; similar to phantom limb pain.
anesthesiologist: a doctor who specializes in monitoring your life functions during surgery so that you dont feel pain.
anesthetic: an agent that causes loss of sensation with or without the loss of consciousness.
aneurysm: a bulge or weakening of an artery wall.
aneurysm clip: a coil-spring device made of titanium used to treat aneurysms.
angiogenesis: the process of developing new blood vessels.
angiogram: a type of X-ray that takes pictures of blood vessels with the help of contrast dye injected via a catheter into the blood stream.
angioplasty: an endovascular procedure to insert a balloon-tipped catheter to enlarge a narrowing in an artery; performed during an angiogram.
ankylosing spondylitis: a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the joints between the vertebrae of the spine, and the joints between the spine and the pelvis. It eventually causes the affected vertebrae to fuse or grow together.
annulus (annulus fibrosis): tough fibrous outer wall of an intervertebral disc.
anterior: from the front.
anterior longitudinal ligament (ALL): a strong fibrous ligament that courses along the anterior surface of the vertebral bodies from the base of the skull to the sacrum.
anticonvulsant: a drug that stops or prevents convulsions or seizures. Used in patients with facial pain to block firing of nerves in order to control pain.
antiepileptic drug (AED): a medication used to control epileptic seizures.
apoplexy: sudden bleeding inside an organ.
arachnoid mater: one of three membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord; the middle web-like membrane.
arterial Doppler study: also known as PVR, this test measures blood flow using ultrasounda radiation-free test in which high-pitched sound waves are directed toward your arteries then reflected back to form an image.
fistula (AVF): an abnormal passage or opening between an artery and a vein.
arteriovenous malformation (AVM): a congenital disorder in which there is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins without an intervening capillary.
arthritis: joint inflammation caused by infection, immune deficiency (rheumatoid arthritis), or degeneration of the cartilage; causes pain, swelling, redness, warmth, and restricted movement.
astrocytoma: a tumor arising from the supportive cells of the brain called astrocytes. These tumors are a type of glioma and range from slow growing and benign to fast growing and malignant. They are the most common primary CNS tumor, representing about half of all primary brain and spinal cord tumors.
“hardening of the arteries.”
audiogram: a test of hearing acuity.
aura: a "warning" that a seizure may be imminent, the beginning of a seizure. Auras range from abnormal smells or tastes, to a funny feeling in the stomach, to sounds, colors, or emotional rushes.
autograft (autologous): a portion of living tissue taken from a part of ones own body and transferred to another for the purpose of fusing two tissues together.
automatism: things people do during a seizure in a state of diminished consciousness, such as pulling at their clothes or chewing.
axon: a long process of the nerve cell (neuron) that carries nerve impulses away from the cell body to other nerve cells.
baclofen: a muscle relaxing drug used to treat spasticity; Lioresal.
balloon test occlusion: a test performed during an angiogram in which a balloon is temporarily inflated inside an artery to block the flow of blood. Used to evaluate collateral blood flow to the brain and assess whether a bypass or vessel sacrifice can be safely tolerated.
basal ganglia: a mass of nerve cell bodies (gray matter) located deep within the white matter of the cerebrum. Has connections with areas that subconsciously control movement.
Bell’s palsy: a weakness or paralysis on one side of the face caused by viral or physical damage to the facial nerve.
benign: non cancerous tumor that grows slowly, does not invade nearby tissues or spread, and has distinct boundaries.
bias: a point of view preventing impartial judgment on issues. In clinical studies, blinding and randomization minimize bias.
occurring on both sides of the body.
biofeedback: a technique of learning how to control certain body functions by monitoring brain waves, muscle tension, blood pressure, etc.
biopsy: a sample of tissue cells for examination under a microscope to determine the existence or cause of a disease.
blind: a randomized clinical trial is "blind" when the participants do not know to which group (experimental or control) they are assigned.
bone graft: bone harvested from one's self (autograft) or from another (allograft) for the purpose of fusing or repairing a defect.
bone scan: a nuclear medicine test that detects areas of increased or decreased bone metabolism. A radioactive material is injected into the bloodstream where it collects in the bones of the body and is detected by a gamma camera. The test is commonly used to diagnose tumors, infections, or fractures of the bone.
bone spurs: bony overgrowths that occur from stresses on bone, also called osteophytes.
Botox (Botulinum Toxin Type A): A toxin injected into your facial muscles that prevents them from contracting. Used both as a treatment for hemifacial spasm and cosmetically to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
brachytherapy: a type of radiation therapy where capsules containing radioactive substances are surgically implanted into the tumor to deliver radiation; also called internal radiotherapy.
bradykinesia: slowness of movement, impaired dexterity, decreased blinking, drooling, expressionless face.
brainstem: connects the upper brain to the spinal cord; responsible for autonomic functions such as breathing and heart rate.
burr hole: a small dime-sized hole made in the skull.
cancellous bone: (sometimes called trabecular bone) the spongy bone found beneath the hard outer bone that is rich with bone-growing proteins.
cancer: generic term for more than 100 different diseases caused by uncontrolled, abnormal growth of cells. Cancer cells can invade and destroy normal tissue, and can travel through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to reach other parts of the body.
capillary telangiectasia: abnormal collection enlarged capillaries.
catheter: a thin flexible tube made of rubber or plastic used to insert or remove fluids from the body.
cauda equina: the bundle of nerves at the end
of the spinal cord that supply the muscles of the legs, bladder, bowel and genitals.
cauda equina syndrome: dull pain and loss of feeling in the buttocks, genitals, and/or thigh with impaired bladder and bowel function; caused
by compression of the spinal nerve roots.
caudate nucleus: part of the basal ganglia involved with voluntary control of movement.
cavernous malformation: abnormal collection of blood vessels with no well-defined feeding arteries or draining veins.
cerebellum: part of the brain responsible for balance and muscle control for movement.
cerebral bypass: an operation in which a surgeon creates a new pathway for the movement of fluids and/or other substances in the brain.
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF): a clear fluid produced by the choroid plexus in the ventricles of the brain. CSF bathes the brain and spinal cord, giving them support and buoyancy to protect from injury.
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak: the fluid surrounding the brain can escape through a hole in the dura lining the skull. In 1% of transsphenoidal cases, a clear watery discharge from the nose, postnasal drip, or excessive swallowing occurs; may require surgery to patch the leak.
cerebrovascular insufficiency: an insufficient blood flow to the brain. The most common cause of decreased blood flow is atherosclerosis of the arteries that supply blood to the brain.
cervical: the neck portion of the spine made up of seven vertebrae.
chemotherapy: treatment with toxic chemicals (e.g., anticancer drugs).
chiropractic manipulation: a system of complimentary medicine that attempts to treat diseases and pain by adjusting alignment of the bones, especially in the back.
cholesterol: a fat-like substance that is made by the human body and eaten in animal products. Cholesterol is used to form cell membranes and process hormones and vitamin D. High cholesterol levels contribute to the development of atherosclerosis.
chondroma: a rare, slow growing, benign tumor arising at the base of the skull, especially in the area near the pituitary gland.
chondrosarcoma: a rare, malignant bone tumor that grows from cartilage cells.
chordoma: a rare, bone tumor arising from primitive notochord cells; usually occurs at the base of the spine (sacrum) or at the skull base (clivus).
chronic: a condition of slow progression and continuing over a long period of time, opposite of acute.
closed head injury: brain injury from an external impact that does not break the skull.
coiling: a procedure, performed during an angiogram, in which platinum coils are inserted into an aneurysm.
collateral vessels: a branch of an artery or vein used as an accessory to the blood vessel from which it arises; often develop to shunt blood around a blockage.
coma: a state of unconsciousness from which the person cannot be aroused; Glasgow Coma Scale score of 8 or less.
concussion: widespread injury to the brain caused by a hard blow or violent shaking, causing a sudden and temporary impairment of brain function, such as a short loss of consciousness or disturbance of vision and equilibrium.
conductive hearing loss: hearing loss caused by damage to the eardrum or ossicle bones.
congenital: existing before or at birth.
contrast agent: a liquid (usually iodine or gadolinium) that is injected into your body to make certain tissues more visible during diagnostic imaging (angiography, CT, myelogram, MRI).
control group: the group that receives standard treatment.
contusion: a bruise to a specific area of the brain; caused by an impact and broken blood vessels.
cooperative groups: networks of organizations and researchers at academic hospitals and community practices that collaborate to conduct research in their medical specialty.
corpectomy: a type of spine surgery in which a major portion of the bony vertebral body is removed and is replaced with a bone graft.
cortical bone: outer layer of dense, compact bone.
mapping: direct brain recording or
stimulation to identify language, motor, and
sensory areas of the cortex.
a hormone produced by the adrenal gland or synthetically.
Regulates salt and water balance and has an anti-inflammatory
the outer layer of the brain containing nerve
nerves: the 12 pairs of nerves that
originate in the brainstem and carry sensory
and motor information to organs in the head
removal of a portion of the skull.
a benign tumor that grows from cells near the pituitary stalk.
craniotome: a special saw with a footplate that allows cutting of the skull without cutting the dura mater.
craniotomy: surgical opening of a portion of the skull to gain access to the intracranial structures and replacement of the bone flap.
CT (computed tomography) scan: a type of diagnostic X-ray that views anatomical structures of the brain and spine, especially bones, soft tissues and vessels. Images are viewed in "slices," similar
Cushing's disease: an endocrine disease caused by increased levels of cortisol in the body; often from an adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)-secreting pituitary tumor. Hallmark signs include a fatty hump between the shoulders, a rounded face, and pink or purple stretch marks on the skin. Also caused by excessive use of corticosteroid medication.
fluid-filled mass, usually enclosed by a membrane.
opening or removal of bone to relieve pressure
and pinching of the spinal nerves.
degenerative arthritis: the wearing away of cartilage that cushions joints in the hands, feet and spine. Bone spurs can develop where the joints rub together resulting in limited motion.
dendrite: the arms of a nerve cell that connect with the axons to transmit impulses toward the cell body.
depression: a mood disorder characterized by feelings of extreme sadness and hopelessness that interferes with a person's ability to function, feel pleasure, or maintain interest.
diabetes insipidus: a disorder in which there is an abnormal increase in urine output, fluid intake, and often thirst. Caused by a decrease in vasopressin hormone due to damage of the posterior pituitary lobe.
diathermy: the use of high-frequency alternating current to produce heat in parts of the body. The heat generated increases blood flow and can be used to treat deep pain associated with rheumatic and arthritic conditions.
differentiation: refers to how developed cancer cells are in a tumor. Well-differentiated tumor cells resemble normal cells and tend to grow and spread at a slower rate than undifferentiated, which lack the structure and function of normal cells and grow uncontrollably.
diffuse axonal injury (DAI): injury to the nerve cell axons from rapid rotational or deceleration of the brain. DAI is often seen in motor vehicle accidents or shaking injuries. The nerve axons, which compose the white matter of the brain, are twisted or torn by shearing forces.
disc): a fibrocartilagenous cushion that
connects any two adjacent vertebrae in the
backbone or spine.
a type of surgery in which herniated disc material
is removed so that it no longer irritates and
compresses the nerve root.
pain: pain arising from degenerative
changes in the intervertebral discs.
a type of diagnostic x-ray that views intervertebral
discs by inserting contrast agent into the disc
syndrome: the interruption of information
transferred from one brain region to another.
a neurotransmitter in the brain that allows messages
to be passed from neuron to neuron across synapses.
Doppler ultrasound: a noninvasive test that uses reflected sound waves to evaluate blood as it flows through a blood vessel.
columns: white matter tracts located
in the posterior portion of the spinal cord
that transmit sensory information to the brain.
study: a clinical trial in which neither
medical staff nor participants know which therapy
the participant will receive.
mater: a tough, fibrous, protective covering
of the brain.
dysesthesia: a numbness, crawling, or unpleasant sensation that a person considers disturbing.
abnormal involuntary movements caused by high
levels of antiparkinson medication.
a movement disorder that causes sustained muscle
contraction producing repetitive movements or
abnormal postures. Spasms can often be controlled
with sensory tricks to suppress the movement.
EC-IC bypass: acronym stands for extracranial – intracranial bypass procedure in which an artery from outside the skull is attached to an artery inside the skull through a craniotomy.
tissue swelling caused by the accumulation of
the ability of a drug or treatment to produce
a desired result. A drug passes efficacy trials
if it is effective at the dose tested and against
the illness for which it is prescribed.
IV: a genetic disorder in which connective
tissue in the intestines, arteries, uterus,
and other hollow organs may be unusually weak,
leading to organ or blood vessel rupture.
conductor that carries current. Can be used for
diagnostic testing to receive and record electrical
activity of nerves or can be used for therapy
to deliver a heating current to destroy nerve
a test to study muscles and nerves for abnormal
patterns of electrical activity. Small needles,
or electrodes, are placed in your muscles creating
light electrical shocks are given to the muscle
and the results are recorded on a special machine.
(plural emboli) a blood clot or other substance
such as air or fat, which is carried in the bloodstream
from another site until it blocks a blood vessel.
the insertion of material, coils or glue, into an aneurysm
so blood can no longer flow through it.
endarterectomy: a surgical procedure in which material occluding the carotid artery is cleaned out, thereby restoring normal blood flow to the brain and preventing a stroke.
a doctor who specializes in treating hormonal/glandular
disorders (e.g., pancreas, pituitary).
a natural hormone produced by the brain that
produces a euphoric pain relieving effect similar
endovascular: relating to a procedure in which a catheter containing medications or miniature instruments is inserted through the skin into a blood vessel for the treatment of vascular disease.
benign tumor that grows from the ependyma cells
lining the ventricles.
a benign, congenital tumor arising from ectodermal
cells; also called pearly tumor.
epidural hematoma: a blood clot that forms between the skull and the dura lining of the brain; caused by torn arteries.
space: the space between the walls of the
vertebral canal and the dura mater that is
filled with fat and small blood vessels.
steroid injection (ESI):
an injection of both a long-lasting steroid "cortisone" and
an anesthetic numbing agent into the epidural
space of your spine. The epidural space is
the area between the protective covering of
a chronic disorder marked by repeated seizures
causing a sudden loss or change of consciousness
and convulsions or muscle spasms.
a neurologist who specializes in the treatment
tremor: involuntary rhythmic tremors of
the hands and arms occurring both at rest and
during purposeful movement.
outside the medulla substance of the spinal cord.
joints: joints located on the top and bottom
of each vertebra that connect the vertebrae
to each other and permit back motion.
facet rhizotomy: a procedure that uses a radiofrequency current to deaden the nerves surrounding the facet joint and prevent pain signals from reaching the brain.
nerve (the seventh cranial nerve): a sensory
and motor nerve that sends signals to your
facial muscles, taste buds on the front of
your tongue, sublingual salivary glands, and
lacrimal glands. A small branch goes to your
ear to help regulate hearing.
facial palsy: paralysis
of the facial muscles on one side.
tending to occur repeatedly in family members,
but is not genetic (inherited). Might indicate
a susceptibility or a common environmental influence.
fibromuscular dysplasia: abnormal cell growth in the artery walls that causes narrowing and a “string of beads” appearance; usually affects arteries of the kidneys and brain.
abnormal channel between the artery and vein
in an AVM.
imaging device that uses x-ray or other radiation
to view structures in the body in real time,
or live. Also called a C-arm.
limited to one specific area.
foramen): the opening or window between the vertebrae
through which the nerve roots leave the spinal
surgical enlargement of the intervertebral foramen
through which the spinal nerves pass from the
spinal cord to the body. Performed to relieve
pressure and impingement of the spinal nerves.
radiotherapy: delivering the radiation
dose over multiple sessions.
join together two separate bones into one to
type of contrast agent used during MRI.
group of nerve cell bodies located at the root
of a nerve.
seizure: a seizure involving the entire
gigantism: excessive growth and height in children caused by overproduction of growth hormone; often from a growth hormone-secreting pituitary tumor.
glial cells: cells
of the nervous system that support the neurons.
There are 10-50 times more glial cells in the
brain than neurons.
glial scar: a
physical and molecular barrier surrounding the
injured area of the spinal cord that may prevent
axons from regenerating.
multiforme (GBM): these tumors, sometimes
called high-grade or grade IV astrocytomas,
grow rapidly, invade nearby tissue, and contain
cells that are very malignant.
a large category of primary brain tumors that
originate from glial cells. There are many types
of gliomas; see astrocytoma, glioblastoma multiforme,
mixed glioma, optic nerve glioma.
pallidus interna (GPI): nuclei in the brain
that regulate muscle tone; part of the basal
jugulare: a very rare, slow growing,
benign tumor that invades the temporal bone.
nerve: a nerve originating from the brainstem
that supplies feeling and movement to the tongue
neuralgia: A painful disorder of the ninth
cranial nerve (glossopharyngeal nerve). Irritation
of this nerve causes intense pain on one side
of the throat near the tonsil area that can
radiate to the ear.
a neurotransmitter that allows messages to be
passed from neuron to neuron across a synapse.
a simple sugar that is a source of energy for
the body and the only source of energy for the
sweet, oily fluid that can be injected into a
nerve to destroy its pain-producing portion.
a group of 3 muscles that run down the back of
a blood clot.
tumor-like mass that forms from blood vessels
and is often cystic; associated with von Hippel-Lindau
hemangioma: a benign
tumor that forms from blood vessels in the brain
or spinal cord.
a rare tumor, grade II or grade III, different
from the meningioma, although rising from the
spasm: an irritation of the seventh cranial
nerve (facial nerve) causing involuntary contraction
of the muscles on one side of the face, also
known as tic convulsif. Can sometimes cause
pain behind the ear and loss of hearing.
external or internal loss of blood from damaged
blood vessels. Hemorrhage is stopped by blood
hemorrhagic stroke: stroke caused by the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain.
heparin: an anti-clotting medication.
to protrude through the wall of the cavity in
which it is normally enclosed. Rupture.
disc: a condition in which the gel-like center of an intervertebral disc ruptures through the tough disc wall irritating surrounding nerves and causing pain.
atrophy: a wasting or decrease in
the hippocampus size causing seizures.
a region in the temporal lobe of the brain that
is associated with learning and memory.
hormone: a chemical substance produced in the body that controls and regulates the activity of certain cells or organs.
an abnormal build-up of cerebrospinal fluid usually
caused by a blockage of the ventricular system
of the brain. Increased intracranial pressure
can compress and damage brain tissue. Also called water
on the brain.
extending a joint or limb beyond its normal limit.
faster than normal metabolism.
hyperthyroidism: increased heart rate, weight loss, nervousness, and sleeplessness caused by excess thyroid hormone; can be caused by thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH)-producing pituitary tumor.
slower than normal metabolism.
a part of the brain that regulates pituitary
hormone responses by secreting releasing factors
or inhibiting factors, depending on the needs
of the body.
that which happens during a seizure.
of unknown cause.
surgery: use of preoperative CT or
MRI scans and a computer workstation to guide
treatment designed to improve or restore the
immune system's ability to fight infection and
an area of dead tissue caused by a blockage of
its blood supply.
to receive from a parent or ancestor by genetic
Review Board (IRB): a
committee of scientists, doctors, and consumers
at each health care facility where a clinical
trial takes place. IRBs review and must approve
protocols for all clinical trials. They check
to see that the study is well designed, does
not involve undue risks, and includes safeguards
modulated radiation therapy (IMRT):
the intensity of the radiation beam can be
changed during treatment to spare adjoining
normal tissue and increase the dose to the
cage: a device made of titanium, carbon-fiber, or polyetheretherketone (PEEK) that is placed in the disc space between two vertebrae. It has a hollow core packed with bone morsels to create a bone fusion.
fusion: a procedure in which a device, packed with bone fragments, is screwed
into the space between two vertebral bodies.
The bone fragments join with the bone of the
vertebrae to create a solid joint and reduce
movement at the painful segment.
that which happens between seizures.
radiation: implantation of radioactive
seeds into a tumor: also called brachytherapy.
foramen: the hole through which the
spinal nerve exits the spinal canal.
hemorrhage (ICH): bleeding
directly into the brain tissue; may cause a
within the skull.
pressure (ICP): pressure within the
skull. Normal ICP is 20mm HG.
ICP monitor: a
device used to measure intracranial pressure
inside the brain.
difficult to control.
located within the covering of the spinal cord
(the dura) but outside the substance of the spinal
located within the spinal cord itself.
space: the space surrounding the spinal
cord through which cerebral spinal fluid (CSF)
flows; also called the subarachnoid space.
iodine: a non-metallic
element used in contrast agent that makes vessels
and tissues show up on diagnostic imaging (angiogram,
a low-oxygen state usually due to obstruction
of the arterial blood supply or inadequate blood
flow leading to hypoxia in the tissue.
ischemic stroke: stroke caused by an interruption or blockage of oxygen-rich blood flow to an area of the brain; caused by a blood clot, atherosclerosis, vasospasm, or reduced blood pressure.
minimally invasive procedure used to treat vertebral
compression fractures by inflating a balloon
to restore bone height then injecting bone cement
into the vertebral body.
abnormal curve of the thoracic spine, also called
of the inner ear responsible for balance.
flat plates of bone originating from the pedicles
of the vertebral body that form the posterior
outer wall of the spinal canal and protect the
spinal cord. Sometimes referred to as vertebral
surgical removal of the laminae or vertebral
arch of the vertebra to remove pressure on the
surgical cutting of the laminae or vertebral
arch of the vertebra.
a device that emits a narrow intense beam of
energy to shrink and cut tissue.
LDL cholesterol: Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is the primary cholesterol molecule. High levels of LDL, nicknamed "bad" cholesterol, increase the risk of atherosclerosis.
a synthetic form of dopamine used in anti-parkinson
a small medical wire that carries electrical
a general term that refers to any change in tissue,
such as tumor, blood, malformation, infection
or scar tissue.
strong band of white fibrous connective tissue
that joins bones to other bones or to cartilage
in the joint areas.
accelerator (LINAC) : a machine that
creates a high-energy radiation beam, using
electricity to form a stream of fast-moving
a rare, benign tumor composed of fat tissue,
commonly located in the corpus callosum.
surgical removal of a lobe of the brain.
increased curvature of the lumbar spine that
tends to make the buttocks more prominent, also
lower portion of the spine made up of 5 vertebrae;
connects with the fused bones of the sacrum below.
lumbar drain: a catheter inserted into the subarachnoid space of the spine to remove cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Used to treat hydrocephalus or relax the brain during surgery.
lumen: the inside diameter of a blood vessel or hollow organ.
rare tumor arising from lymph cells; may metastasize
to the brain from lymphoma tumor elsewhere in
Resonance Imaging (MRI): a
diagnostic test that uses a strong magnet
to view tissues in your body and displays
cancerous tumor that grows quickly, invades other
tissues, and has irregular boundaries.
syndrome: a genetic disorder in which
patients develop skeletal defects in long bones,
chest abnormalities, curvature of the spine,
and circulatory defects.
damage to the brain due to the bulk of a tumor,
the blockage of fluid, and/or excess accumulation
of fluid within the skull.
a fast-growing, invasive tumor usually located
in the cerebellum that frequently spreads to other
parts of the central nervous system via the spinal
three membranes (pia mater, arachnoid mater,
and dura mater) that surround the brain and spinal
tumor that grows from the meninges, the membrane
that surrounds the brain and spinal cord.
in cancer patients, the spreading of malignant
cancerous tumor that has spread from its original
source through the blood or lymph systems.
microcatheter: a small catheter, about the size of a string of spaghetti, used to discharge coils into an aneurysm.
small handwriting seen in Parkinson's Disease.
decompression (MVD): a surgical procedure
to relieve symptoms caused by cranial nerve
compression; a tiny sponge is inserted between
the compressing vessel and the nerve.
invasive surgery: use of technology
(e.g., endoscopes, cameras, image-guidance
systems, robotics) to operate through small,
keyhole incisions in the body.
treatment with only one drug.
a potent narcotic drug used to treat severe and
Moyamoya disease: a narrowing of the internal carotid arteries at the base of the brain that can eventually result in complete blockage and stroke. To compensate for the narrowing arteries, the brain creates collateral blood vessels in an attempt to deliver oxygen-rich blood to deprived areas of the brain.
Moyamoya syndrome: a condition with moyamoya-like changes to the internal carotid arteries but caused by a known disease.
(Magnetic Resonance Imaging): a diagnostic
test that uses a strong magnet to view tissues
in your body and displays them in a series
trials: clinical trials that are conducted
at many treatment centers at the same time.
myeloma: a cancer of plasma cells,
the antibody-producing cells normally present
in the bone marrow.
sclerosis: a chronic degenerative disease
of the central nervous system in which the
myelin (sheath) surrounding the nerves is destroyed.
(microvascular decompression): a surgical
procedure to relieve symptoms caused by cranial
nerve compression; a tiny sponge is inserted
between the compressing vessel and the nerve.
a fatty material that forms a protective sheath
around the axon of nerve cells.
diagnostic test in which a special dye is injected
into the space around the spinal cord causing
the nerves to show up white on an X-ray.
broad term referring to spinal cord dysfunction of any cause. Some processes that lead to myelopathy include: transverse myelitis, injury, arthritis, vascular malformation, vertebral fracture from osteoporosis infection or malignancy, or syrinx an enlarged cyst within the spinal cord).
nasal splints: small, thin plastic material placed in the nose after surgery to prevent adhesion scars from forming in the nose.
necrosis: dead cells.
a tumor, either benign or malignant.
conduction velocity (NCV):
a test to study nerves for abnormal patterns
of electrical activity. Small electrode pads
are placed on your skin along a nerve path.
Light electrical shocks are given to the nerve
and the results are recorded on a special machine.
nerve pain caused by nerve compression or the
breakdown of the protective myelin sheath surrounding
a nerve. This disrupts the normal signal of the
nerve and causes pain which begins as "pins
and needles" followed by an intense burning,
jabbing, or electrical shock sensation that can
neurectomy: cutting of a nerve for the relief of pain.
inflammation of a nerve or nerves.
benign tumor that grows from the fibrous covering of a nerve. Related to the inherited disorder neurofibromatosis.
a genetic disorder, also called von Recklinghausen
disease, in which patients develop café-au-lait
spots, freckling, and multiple soft tumors under
the skin and throughout the nervous system.
claudication: a pain syndrome in the back
and legs aggravated by walking and relieved
by sitting or bending forward.
keratitis: inflammation of the cornea,
which is the transparent outermost layer of
basic unit of the nervous system, composed of
a cell body, dendrites, and axon; also called
a nerve cell.
a chemical substance that allows for the transmission
of electrical impulses from one nerve cell to
another across synapses. Some neurotransmitters
include: acetylcholine, noradrenaline, dopamine,
serotonin, gamma-aminobutyric acid and glutamate.
central part of an AVM.
anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs):
drugs used to reduce inflammation and relieve
pain. They mainly inhibit the body's ability
to synthesize prostaglandins.
(nucleus pulposus): soft gel-like center
of an intervertebral disc.
a lack of sensation or the inability to feel
anything when the skin is touched.
occlusion: an obstruction or closure of a passageway or vessel.
surgeon: a doctor who specializes
in surgery of the eye and face.
a tumor that grows from the support cells (oligodendroglia)
of the brain that produce myelin, the fatty covering around nerve cells.
open head injury: penetration of the skull pushing skull fragments or objects (bullet) into the brain.
device applied to or around the body in the care
of physical impairment or disability.
medical professional who specializes in making
custom molded braces and prostheses (artifical
osteoblasts: the bone-building cells in bone.
osteoclasts: the bone-removing, or resorption, cells in bone.
a depletion of calcium in the bones making them weak, brittle, and prone to fracture. Common in elderly women after menopause. Can be prevented early in life with calcium and regular exercise to stimulate bone metabolism.
bony overgrowths that occur from stresses on
bone, also called bone spurs. Often relates to
non-cancerous bone tumor that grows in the posterior
portion of the spine. Symptoms include long-lasting
pain, swelling and tenderness. Pain stops when
it is surgically removed.
osteoma: a smaller, non-cancerous
type of osteoblastoma that causes increased
pain at night. This tumor is easy to treat
with surgery or radio-frequency ablation.
bone infection caused by bacteria.
surgeon: a doctor who specializes in surgery
of the ear.
disease: also known as osteitis deformans,
a bone disease in which normal bone is destroyed
and then replaced with thickened, weaker, softer
bone. This weaker bone easily bends and deforms.
Most often affects the pelvis, thoracic and
lumbar spine, skull, femur, tibia, fibula,
to alleviate without curing.
a vasodilator drug used to relax blood vessels
paralysis of both legs and lower body below the
arms indicating an injury in the thoracic or
Disease (PD): a degenerative, progressive
neurologic disorder that affects nerve cells
in deep parts of your brain that are responsible
for relaying messages that plan and control
body movement. Symptoms include tremor, slowness
of movement, stiffness, and balance problems.
adjective used to describe the uncontrollable
and sudden twitching of the face.
the narrow strip of bone between the superior
and inferior facets of the vertebra.
seizure: a seizure involving only a portion
of the brain.
thin, bony bridge that connects the vertebral
body with the outer processes.
way of the skin. (e.g., injection).
perfuse: to force blood or other fluid to flow from the artery through the vascular bed of a tissue.
nerve stimulation: a pain management
system in which specific nerves are stimulated
rather than the general area of the spinal
adenoma: a tumor arising from cells
in the pituitary gland; tumor may be hormone-secreting
(prolactin, adrenocorticotropic, growth hormone)
an inactive pill, liquid, or powder that has
no treatment value.
(primitive neuroectodermal tumor):
a tumor which appears identical under the microscope
to the medulloblastoma, but occurs primarily
in the cerebrum and most frequently occurs
in very young children.
kidney disease: a genetic disorder
in which patients develop multiple cysts on
the kidneys; associated with aneurysms of blood
vessels in the brain.
electrically charged particle that has the opposite
charge as an electron. It reacts with an electron
to produce gamma rays.
emission tomography (PET): a nuclear medicine
test in which tissue
function can be imaged. Damaged tissues have
reduced metabolic activity; therefore, gamma
radiation from these areas is reduced or absent.
from the back.
longitudinal ligament (PLL): a strong
fibrous ligament that courses along the posterior
surface of the vertebral bodies within the
spinal canal from the base of the skull to
behind and to one side.
postherpetic neuralgia: chronic pain that persists after shingles rash and blisters have healed.
sores: injured areas of skin or tissue
caused by lying or sitting in one position
neuroectodermal tumor (PNET) : a tumor
which appears identical under the microscope
to the medulloblastoma, but occurs primarily
in the cerebrum and most frequently occurs
in very young children.
supranuclear palsy: a degenerative, progressive
neurologic disorder that affects nerve cells
in deep parts of your brain causing motor disturbances
similar to Parkinson's. Notable symptom is
the loss of ability to move the eyes to look
a hormone that helps regulate sexual function,
including stimulating milk production.
prolactinoma: a benign pituitary tumor that overproduces the hormone prolactin. Too much prolactin causes abnormal milk production in the breasts, lack of menstruation, infertility, and decreased sex drive.
pseudomeningocele: an abnormal collection of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that communicates with the CSF space around the brain or spinal cord. Unlike a meningocele, the fluid has no surrounding membrane but is contained in a cavity within the soft tissues.
paralysis of both legs and arms indicating an
injury to the cervical spine.
high-energy rays or particle streams used to
radiation necrosis: death of healthy tissue caused by the delivery of radiation to kill tumor cells.
refers to any disease affecting the spinal nerve
roots. Also used to describe pain along the sciatic
nerve that radiates down the leg.
used in MRI whose waves are in the frequency
range of 300 MHz to 3 kHz.
rhizotomy: A procedure used to treat facial
neuralgias by using radiant energy of a certain
frequency (radiofrequency) to destroy the pain-producing
portion of the nerve (rhizotomy).
the technique of attaching, or "tagging",
a radioactive molecule to another molecule (such
as a protein) so that it can be identified in
the body. The radiolabeled substance emits positrons
a doctor who specializes in reading X-rays and
other diagnostic scans.
department: rooms designated for examining
and imaging the body by use of x-rays or magnetic
resistant to radiation therapy.
responsive to radiation therapy.
high-energy rays or particle streams used to
a method used to prevent bias in research. People
are assigned by chance to either the treatment
or control group, like the flip of a coin.
return of symptoms or the disease itself.
automatic or involuntary reaction to a stimulus.
surgical removal of a tumor or malformation.
tumor: tumor remaining after surgery.
revascularization: to restore blood supply to an organ by means of a blood vessel graft.
or destroying of a group of cells (e.g., nerve
cells) for the relief of pain.
or destroying portions of nerve roots for the
relief of pain.
five fused vertebrae at the base of the spine
that provide attachment for the iliac (hip) bones
and protect the pelvic organs.
called neuroma): a tumor arising from Schwann
cells that produce myelin.
nerve: nerve located in the back of the
leg which supplies the muscles of the back
of the knee and lower leg and sensation to
the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg,
and the sole of the foot.
pain that courses along the sciatic nerve in the buttocks and down the legs. Usually caused by compression of the 5th lumbar or 1st sacral spinal nerves.
an abnormal side-to-side curvature of the spine.
uncontrollable convulsion, spasm, or series of
jerking movements of the face, trunk, arms, or
focus: a specific area of the brain
where seizures begin.
sella (sella turcica): a depression on the upper surface of the sphenoid bone, lodging the pituitary gland.
sensorineural hearing loss: hearing loss caused by damage to the vestibulocochlear nerve.
a mass formed by the collection of tissue fluids
following a wound or surgery.
shingles (herpes zoster): a viral infection that causes a painful skin rash and blisters along the course of a nerve; a reactivation of chickenpox.
a drainage tube to move cerebrospinal fluid from
inside the ventricles of the brain into another
body cavity such as the abdomen.
trials: trials initiated by one researcher
that are only available at one center.
base surgeon: a doctor with special
training to perform complex craniotomies at
the base of the skull.
severe muscle rigidity and spasms caused by damage
to motor pathways; makes movement of the arms
and legs difficult.
sphenoid sinus: an air-filled, mucous-lined cavity in the skull located behind the nose and between the eyes.
canal: the hollow space within the bony
vertebrae of the spine through which the spinal
cord: part of the central nervous system
enclosed and protected by the spinal vertebrae;
conducts messages, or impulses, back and forth
between your brain and body to control sensation
hygroma: an accumulation of cerebrospinal
fluid under the skin, which produces a visible
swelling, caused by leakage around a catheter,
drain, or shunt.
instability: abnormal movement between
two vertebrae that can cause pain or damage
the spinal cord and nerves.
spinal shock: immediately
following spinal cord injury there is an absence
of movement, sensation, and reflexes below the
level of the lesion. It can last for hours to weeks
and then may get better.
stenosis: the narrowing of the spinal canal
and nerve-root canal along with the enlargement
of the facet joints.
tracts: a group of nerve fibers that
transmit the feeling of pain through the spinal
cord to the brain.
when one vertebra slips forward on another, usually
at the fifth lumbar vertebra and sacrum.
a weakness or fracture between the upper and lower facets of a vertebra, an area called the pars interarticularis.
a spinal condition resulting from degeneration
of the intervertebral discs causing narrowing
of the disc space and the presence of bone spurs.
Also called degenerative disc disease.
epilepticus: a seizure that lasts more
than 5 minutes and requires immediate medical
attention due to lack of oxygen to the brain.
stent: a tube-like device that is inserted into a vessel or passageway to keep it open.
precise method for locating deep brain structures
by the use of 3-dimensional coordinates.
A large group of chemical substances related
in structure to one another and each containing
the same chemical backbone. Many hormones, body
constituents, and drugs are steroids. Examples:
drugs used to relieve swelling and inflammation
such as prednisone, vitamin D, and the sex steroids
such as testosterone.
(corpus striatum): part of the basal ganglia
involved with the subconscious regulation of
a condition caused by interruption of the blood
supply to the brain; may cause loss of ability
to speak or to move parts of the body.
space: the space between the pia and arachnoid
mater of the brain and spinal cord that contains
cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).
hemorrhage: bleeding in the space surrounding
the brain; may cause a stroke.
subdural hematoma: a blood clot that forms between the brain and the dura; caused by torn veins.
nigra: a group of cells in the brain where
dopamine is produced.
nucleus (STN): a group of cells below the
thalamus that is linked to the basal ganglia.
tiny gap between two nerve cells; across which
impulses pass by release of neurotransmitters.
Some brain cells have more than 15,000 synapses.
a fainting spell caused by an abrupt reduction
of blood flow to the brain.
syringomyelia: a chronic progressive disease of the spinal cord caused by an obstruction of normal cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow that redirects the fluid into the spinal cord to form a syrinx.
syrinx: a cavity filled with cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) that expands and elongates over time, destroying the center of the spinal cord.
target: area where the radiation beams are aimed; usually
a tumor, malformation, or other abnormality of
telemetry: the method for adjusting the settings on an implanted device by using radio or other remote signals.
a relay station for all sensory messages that
thoracic: middle portion of the spine made up of 12 vertebrae.
thrombolysis: to break down or dissolve a clot.
thrombus: a blood clot
douloureux: French for trigeminal neuralgia.
a prickling sensation or pins-and-needles sensation,
or buzzing noise in the ear.
tissue plasminogen activator(t-PA): a thrombolytic "clot-buster" drug used to reduce the severity of ischemic stroke if given within three hours of stroke onset; can be given intravenously or by arterial catheter, but not by mouth.
titanium: a strong, low-density, highly corrosion-resistant metal alloy.
tomography: the technique of using rotating X-rays to capture an image at a particular depth in the body, bringing those structures into sharp focus while blurring
structures at other depths.
tracer: a substance, usually radioactively labeled, which is injected into your body and can be followed to gain information about metabolic processes.
tracts: a group of nerve fibers that pass from one part of the brain or spinal cord to another, forming a pathway.
traction: a method for relieving pressure on the spine
by using a system of weights and pulleys.
transcranial doppler (TCD): an ultrasound device used to measure blood flow through arteries in the brain.
transient ischemic attack (TIA): a mini stroke caused when blood flow to the brain is temporarily interrupted
and then restored; causes no permanent brain damage.
translaminar: through the lamina.
trigeminal nerve: a nerve originating within the brain that supplies feeling and movement to the face. The trigeminal nerve has three divisions: ophthalmic (V1), gives sensation to the forehead and eyes; maxillary (V2), gives sensation to the cheek,
under the eye, around the nose; and mandibular (V3), gives sensation to the jaw.
trigeminal neuralgia: a painful disorder of the fifth cranial nerve (trigeminal nerve). Irritation of this nerve can cause intense pain that usually affects one side of the face usually in the forehead, cheek, jaw, or teeth.
zones: small areas that produce intense pain if stimulated, usually located near the nose, lips, eyes, or ears.
tumor: an abnormal growth of tissue resulting from uncontrolled multiplication of cells and serving no physiological function. A tumor can be benign or malignant.
ultrasonic aspirator: a surgical tool that uses a fine jet of water, ultrasonic vibration, and suction to break up and remove lesions.
ultrasound: soundwaves of extremely high frequency which reflect off body structures to create a picture. Can also be used as a form of medical treatment to break up kidney stones or treat joint pain.
vagus nerve: a cranial nerve that carries signals from the brainstem through organs in the neck, chest, and abdomen.
vasospasm: abnormal narrowing or constriction of arteries due to irritation by blood in the subarachnoid space.
ventricles: hollow areas in the center of the brain containing cerebrospinal fluid. There are two lateral ventricles on each side of the brain, one third ventricle, and one fourth ventricle.
ventricular drain: a catheter placed in the ventricle of the brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid.
ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunt: a tube placed in the ventricle of the brain to drain excess cerebrospinal fluid into the abdomen.
malformation: abnormal tangle of veins.
a blood filled channel that lacks normal vessel walls.
vertebra (plural vertebrae): one of 33 bones that form the spinal column, they are divided into 7 cervical, 12 thoracic, 5 lumbar, 5 sacral, and 4 coccygeal. Only the top 24 bones are moveable.
vertebral body compression fracture (VCF): a break in the vertebral body of the spine that causes it to collapse and produce a wedge-shaped deformity.
vertebroplasty: a minimally invasive procedure used to treat vertebral compression fractures by injecting bone cement into the vertebral body; similar to kyphoplasty but does not restore vertebral height.
vertigo: a feeling of spinning, whirling, or turning.
vestibulocochlear nerve: the eighth cranial nerve responsible for hearing and balance.
video EEG monitoring: simultaneous monitoring of a patient's behavior with a video camera and the patient's brain activity by EEG.
weakness: a lack or reduction of strength in one or more muscles.
whiplash: an injury to the ligaments and muscles of the neck resulting from rapid acceleration or deceleration (as in an auto accident).
X-ray: electromagnetic radiation used in diagnostic imaging to view shadows of tissue density in the body, also called roentgenogram.