Brett Rocos MB ChB MD FRCS (Tr & Orth),1, Daniel Ochieng MB ChB FRCSEd (Neuro.Surg),2,

1 Consultant Spine Surgeon, Department of Spine Surgery, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK.
2Complex Spine Fellow, Department of Spine Surgery, Barts Health NHS Trust, London, UK.


Abstract: Spondylolisthesis is a common finding in the adult patient but seldom requires surgical intervention. Up to 18% of the population show spondylolisthesis on spinal imaging with the vast majority requiring little or no treatment. This review explores the aetiology of spondylolisthesis, alongside key findings in the history and examination that should prompt referral, as well as presenting the evidence supporting surgical treatment. Spondylolisthesis affects patients at nearly every stage of life and understanding why and how to manage this common problem will aid in counselling patients and making the right referrals.
Key Words: Spondylolisthesis, spondylosis, back pain, radicular pain, neurogenic claudication, spinal stenosis.

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• Spondylolisthesis affects 18% of adults.
• Surgical treatment for spondylolisthesis is rarely required.
• Risk factors depend on the patient's age and include specific athletic activities, trauma and degenerative changes to the posterior elements.
• Examination findings can be normal.
• Surgical options include repair, decompression, and stabilisation of affected segments.
• Spondylolisthesis is a common incidental finding.
• Not every spondylolisthesis needs treatment.
• Uncontrolled pain is a valid reason for referral.
• Analgesia, physiotherapy, and injection therapy manage most cases successfully.
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