Protruding disc in the lumbar spine

Protruding disc in the lumbar spine

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Credit: JOHN T. ALESI/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Protruding disc in the lumbar spine. Artwork and axial CT (computed tomography) scans through the lumbar (lower back) spine showing a protruding disc (L3-L4 joint). At top left, an artwork of the lumbar spine shows the level at which the CT scan was obtained. The artwork combined the with the CT scan (bottom) shows the disc's pulpy interior (nucleus pulposus) protruding into the outer ring (annulus fibrosus), pressing on the cauda equina nerves and the spinal nerve roots. The fibrocartilage discs between each vertebra form spinal joints that bend and flex. Spinal disc protrusion can cause pain and in severe cases may require surgery.

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