Medical/Neurosurgical Glossary
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Naffziger and Viets Test – This is a test for increased intracranial pressure using pressure on the jugular veins and checking the response.

Naffziger Syndrome – Named after a great early neurosurgeon, this refers to damage caused by the scalenus muscle.

Necessary – This is a common word used in a peculiar way by medical insurance companies and which results in great confusion.  When an insurance company uses the word “necessary” they indicate that they are willing to pay.  If they say “not necessary” they mean that they will not pay.  It has nothing to do with a patient’s need for a treatment.  For example, an insurance denial form may use the abbreviation, “MED PROC NOT NEC” to indicate that they have decided that the procedure is “not necessary” for the patient, and that they do not wish to pay for any charges.

Negligence - responsibility; having caused an injury.

Needle Biopsy – A biopsy procedure in which a small sample of tissue is removed through a hollow needle.

Neural Organization Technique (NOT) – A controversial alternative care method purported to "organize" the nervous system and activate helpful reflexes by using applied kinesiology muscle-testing to identify and correct food allergies and dysfunctions claimed to affect the flow of cerebrospinal fluid around the brain.

Nerve Conduction Test – A medical test procedure to measure nerve impulse generation.

Nervo-ScopeA handheld, dual-probe thermocouple device used by some chiropractors and claimed by the manufacturer to locate "subluxations" by measuring skin temperature on both sides of the spine.

Neural Plasticity – Refers to the ability of the brain and/or certain parts of the nervous system to change in order to adapt to new conditions, such as an injury.

Neural Prostheses – These are medical devices that substitute for an injured or diseased part of the nervous system to enhance the function.

Neural Stimulation – This means to activate or energize a nerve through an external source. 

Neural Tube Defect – A type of birth defect, such as spina bifida, that results from failure of the spinal cord or brain to develop normally in a fetus.  

Neuralgia – A painful condition caused by disorders of the nervous system.   

Neuritis – This indicates the inflammation of a nerve or nerves. 

NeurocalometerA chiropractic heat-detecting instrument originally developed in 1924 which claims to be good for locating subluxated vertebrae.

Neuro-Emotional Technique (NET) – A chiropractic method purported to correct disease-causing subluxations that result from negative emotions that "lock in" a "neuro emotional complex (N.E.C)."

Neurofibromatosis – Also known as Von Recklinghausen’s disease, an inherited disorder in which noncancerous tumors grow on nerves that may include the hearing nerve.   

Neurogenic – This means of nerve origin.

Neurogenic Communication Disorder – This is an inability to exchange information with others because of hearing, speech, and/or language problems caused by impairment of the nervous system.

Neuromusculoskeletal – Any problem involving nerves, muscles or the skeletal system.  The majority of traumatic injuries fall into this category.

Neuron – A nerve cell specialized to process or conduct electrical impulses which carry information from one part of the brain to another.    

Neuropathology – The study of the nervous system.

Neurosurgery – The surgical specialty involved in the treatment of disorders of the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves.  Neurosurgeons are spinal specialists.

Nerve – Nerves are the "wiring" of the body.  They carry the signals are sent to and from the brain.  Nerves go to the muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints, skin and other organs. Signals of input such as pain, temperature, and position sense are transmitted to the brain through the nerves as are the brain’s instructions to the muscles and internal organs.

Nerve Root – This is the portion of the nerve that comes off of the spinal cord and exits the vertebral canal (spinal canal) through a root foramen or hole in the bone.

Neurotransmitters – A collection of chemical substances that carry impulses from one nerve cell to another.  These are found in the space (synapse) that separates the transmitting neuron's terminal (axon) from the receiving neuron's terminal (dendrite).  

Nimmo method – A chiropractic technique that uses digital pressure on trigger points to relax muscles said to be pulling vertebrae out of alignment.

Noise-Induced Hearing Loss – This is a hearing loss that is caused either by a one-time or repeated exposure to very loud sounds.

Non-invasive Procedures – A diagnostic effort or treatment that does not require entering the body or puncturing the skin. 

Non-force techniques – A collection of chiropractic reflex techniques and muscle-treatment methods that do not involve forceful manipulation.

Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) – This is a group of medications that produces antipyretic, analgesic, and anti-inflammatory effects.

Non-Union – The goal of spinal fusion procedures create a solid bone bridge between two or more bones in the spine. If the fusion does not solidify, the failure to fuse is called a "non-union" or a pseudarthrosis.  It can an be painful and may require another surgery in order to fix.

Nuclear Medicine – A specialized area of radiology that uses very small amounts of radioactive substances to examine organ function and structure.

Nucleus Pulposus – The soft inner area of the intervertebral disc.  This is gelatinous in consistency in young people and dries out as we age.  It is surrounded by a tough fibrous shell called the annulus fibrosus.

Nurse Case Manager - a registered nurse (R.N.), assigned by the lawyer or insurance adjustor, to monitor medical treatments.

Nurse Practitioner - a registered nurse who provides care to patients; usually works with a physician to give care.

Nutrients -- Proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals provided by food and necessary for growth and the maintenance of life.

If you are aware of any useful spine and neuromusculoskeletal terms which are not included in this list, or if you have suggestions for better definitions,  your help would be greatly appreciated.  Please send me any upgrades and I will update the web site appropriately.  Click here to send a comment.


The information in this site briefly describes issues related to medical treatments, and has been licensed by from Northern California Neurosurgery Medical Group, Inc., who is solely responsible for said content.  This web site is not a substitute for good medical care or for a consultation with a spine specialist. It should not be used to plan your treatment. The well considered advice of a specialist who has personally examined you is always superior to even the best internet pages.

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Last modified: 07/27/08