Author(s): Farfan HF, Osteria V, Lamy C
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Abstract There are 3 mechanisms that may result in failure of the neural arch with or without displacement of the vertebral body of the pathological vertebral: flexion overload, unbalanced shear forces and forced rotation. It is understood that all types of overload may be applied simultaneously and in various combinations. Of all the forces acting on the lumbar spine torsional violence is the most disruptive of the neural arch. Besides causing olisthesis, it is also capable of producing lysis of the pars especially if the dorsal spine has the added restraint of high tensile stresses in the posterior ligamentous system. Under normal conditions, the L5-S1 intervertebral joint is subject to the highest forces and it therefore receives the first damage. However, in the presence of antiverse process, damaging stress occurs in the next higher joint. While the antitorsional large transverse process may protect the L5-S1 joint from torsion, it may not protect the L5 vertebra from excessive flexional strains that may fracture the pars. Though lysis may occur in both instances, paradoxically spondylolysis and spondylolisthesis are mutually exclusive conditions. It has long been thought that shear force imbalance was the causative agent in olisthesis. This mechanism remains unconvincing except possibly in instances where there is a pathological condition affecting the skeletal tissue.
This article was published in Clin Orthop Relat Res
and referenced in Journal of Spine