An anterior cervical corpectomy involves the anterior (“from the front”) removal of vertebrae in the cervical section of the spine.
If a spine disease involves more than just the disc or surrounding space, your spine surgeon may recommend removal of the vertebrae, as well as the disc spaces at either end, to allow for more room in the spinal canal. This is known as a “corpectomy,” which means “removing the body.”
Is an Anterior Cervical Corpectomy Right for Me?
If your spinal condition involves more than just the disc space, your spine surgeon may recommend a corpectomy. This involves removing the entirety of the vertebral body, including the disc spaces at the ends of the vertebra, in order to completely decompress the cervical portion of the spinal canal.
We perform this procedure for more extensive cervical stenosis, when your spinal cord is severely compressed (usually from bone spur growth).
The approach is similar to a discectomy, but the incisions may be used to allow for more extensive exposure. The spine surgeon then performs a corpectomy, removing the vertebral body (or bodies, if necessary). Sometimes the posterior longitudinal ligament is removed to allow further access to the cervical canal and to relieve more pressure on the spinal cord.
Once the vertebral body is removed, a cervical fusion is performed. Because the entire vertebral body has been removed, the doctor fills the space with bone from another part of the body – the pelvis or leg bones, for instance. Using a bone graft in this empty space holds the remaining vertebrae apart, and when the bone heals it causes the vertebrae to fuse together.
Am I a Candidate for Anterior Cervical Corpectomy?
Surgically speaking, a corpectomy is a more difficult spine procedure to perform. The procedure is similar to a discectomy, but because the corpectomy is a more extensive surgery, risks are statistically greater. Risks of the surgery can include:
- Damage to the nerve root or spinal cord
- Graft dislodgment
- Damage to the trachea/esophagus
Please note that Dr. Joseph Weinstein only recommends corpectomy surgeries in circumstances of severe spinal cord issues. These issues place the cord at greater risk surgical complications, regardless of how skilled or experienced your surgeon might be.
If you’d like to know more about anterior cervical corpectomy contact Comprehensive Orthopedic & Spine Care team about your condition, make an appointment today!