Anterior Cervical Corpectomy
The Operation (Video) www.wn.com/corpectomy
Why is an anterior cervical corpectomy performed?
In some people, bone spurs arise from the vertebral body, causing the spinal canal to become narrow. A bone spur can either form as a natural part of the aging process, or in response to pressure and stress on the bone. However it forms, the bone spur can put pressure on the spine or nerves, which can cause back pain. In these types of cases, a cervical corpectomy is performed.
What is the operation like?
The surgery is performed with the patient lying on his or her back. A small incision is made on the front, or the anterior, of the neck. The muscles, arteries, and nerves surrounding that area are gently moved aside, exposing the spine.
Once the spine has been reached, the surgeon removes the parts of the vertebrae that are causing the problem. However, the removal leaves an open space that needs to be filled with something. At that stage, a bone graft is inserted into the space, either using metal plates and screws or some other method. The bone graft can either be an “autograft,” which means it came from your own leg or hip, or an “allograft,” meaning that the bone came from someone else.
At this point, the surgeon will close the incision, allowing the bone graft and the vertebrae to slowly heal and fuse.
What is recovery like?
Most patients are discharged within 24-48 hours of their surgery. In the early stages of recovery, your activity will probably be kept to a minimum. You will likely be connected to a physical therapist for rehabilitation and he or she will help you with a recovery exercise routine. Once the fusion has healed, you will be able to progress to more vigorous activities.
Many patients notice immediate improvement in their symptoms. For others, the improvements come on slowly. Either way, full recovery can be achieved by adhering to your doctor’s or physical therapist’s directions.
Every surgical procedure comes with risks. To learn about these risks and how to minimize them, talk to your spinal specialist.