Dr. Satish Rudrappa

Listhesis – Simple & Complex

The spinal cord in the body is made up of a number of vertebrates. Listhesis also referred to as Spondylolisthesis, is the dislocation of vertebrae in the spine. In this condition, the vertebrae or the bones in the spine dislocate or shift from their original place and fall onto the other bones that are located below it. Such a condition exerts pressure on the nerves and leads to painful situations in the lower back region.

There are primarily two types of listhesis. They are simple and complex listhesis.

  1. Simple Listhesis

It involves the dislocation of one bone of the spinal cord and it falls upon the bone that is immediately below it. The types of occurrences under simple listhesis include-

  • Degenerative Spondylolisthesis- Occurs in old age due to wear and tear of joints.
  • Isthmic Spondylolisthesis- Occurs due to a defect in the small bone of the vertebral arch.
  • Traumatic Spondylolisthesis- Occurs due to injury, like spine fracture.
  • Pathological Spondylolisthesis- Occurs due to medical conditions like infection in the spine.

Simple listesis or Grade 1 listesis, shows signs of pain and stiffness in the lower back along with weakness in the limbs. However, it causes minimum discomfort to individuals and is often curable with medicines and physical therapies.

  1. Complex Listhesis

It is a more severe form of Listhesis where multiple bones get dislocated resulting in a changed alignment of the structure of the spine. The types of occurrences under complex listhesis include-

  • Multilevel Listhesis- Occurs when a large number of bones dislocate affecting a number of bones in the spine.
  • High-Grade Listhesis- This is a high-intensity dislocation that falls under grade 3 or 4 according to the Meyerding grading system.
  • Listhesis with Neurological Complications- It occurs when excessive pressure of the nerves or roots of the spine is created due to dislocation of the vertebrate.
  • Instability Listhesis- Occurs when the spine becomes unstable hampering the alignment of the spine.

Complex listhesis or Grade 2 to 4 listhesis is characterized by extreme pain and severe neurological problems. Surgical is a common mode of treatment for treating complex cases to re-establish the functional aspect of the spine.


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