Clinical evaluation of adult patient with spondylolisthesis

Gregory D. Schroeder, Alpesh A Patel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Adult spondylolisthesis is the translation of one vertebra in relation to the adjacent level and can be classified into six groups: dysplastic, isthmic, degenerative, traumatic, pathologic, and post-surgical. This chapter reviews the clinical presentation and evaluation of patients with spondylolisthesis. Patients will commonly present with lower back pain. Low back pain may be positional, worsening with extension or flexion. Radicular pain or symptoms of neurogenic claudication are also commonly present. Younger patients may be more likely to present with an isthmic spondylolisthesis, while older patients, especially females, are likely to present with a degenerative spondylolisthesis. Physical examination includes an assessment of lumbar range of motion, areas of tenderness to palpation and, most importantly, a thorough neurological examination. Symptomatic patients can be evaluated with upright static and dynamic radiographs of the lumbar spine as well as full-length radiographs to assess the spondylolisthetic segment as well as sagittal balance. Advanced imaging, most commonly magnetic resonance imaging, can be beneficial to confirm the presence and location of nerve root compression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpondylolisthesis
Subtitle of host publicationDiagnosis, Non-Surgical Management, and Surgical Techniques
PublisherSpringer US
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781489975751
ISBN (Print)9781489975744
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Clinical presentation
  • Degenerative spondylolisthesis
  • Isthmic spondylolisthesis
  • Radiographic evaluation
  • Sagittal balance
  • Spinopelvic evaluation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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