OBJECTIVES--To redefine and comment on terms on a pathological basis, in order to avoid the confusion due to the use of terms with different meanings, to standardise usage among clinicians, radiologists and pathologists, and to facilitate literature searches. METHODS--Within the Committee of Pathology of the European League against Rheumatism, a study group was set up to analyse the medical literature and common practice concerning the nomenclature of rheumatic spinal diseases. The group tried to amalgamate the main trends in the field, to reconcile etymology, historical background, morphology, and common practice. RESULTS--The group warns against use of the terms 'acquired hyperostosis syndrome', '(von) Bechterew's disease', 'Kümmel's disease', 'pseudospondylolisthesis', 'rheumatoid spondylitis', 'spondylarthropathy' in the sense of spondarthritis, and 'spondylosis'. It recommends intercorporal or interapophyseal rather than intervertebral (osteo) chondrosis, zygapophyseal diverticulum rather than cyst, disc hernia rather than prolapse, spondyloarthritis rather than spondyloarthropathy, marginal rather than anterior spondylitis, and discarthrosis. It proposes 'zygarthrosis' to designate zygapophyseal osteoarthrosis. CONCLUSIONS--Knowledge of the pathological basis of diseases and an understanding of the original definitions given by those who coined new terms make it possible to avoid most of the confusion arising from improper use of spinal terms.
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