Anterior Cervical Corpectomy
An anterior cervical corpectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove one or more vertebral bodies and disc spaces in the neck in order to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves caused by stenosis or bone spurs. Patients with these conditions often experience pain in the affected area, as well as numbness, tingling or weakness in the extremities. As its name suggests, an anterior cervical corpectomy involves approaching the problem area from the front of the cervical spine.
The Anterior Cervical Corpectomy Procedure
The anterior cervical corpectomy procedure is performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. During this surgery, an incision is made in the side of the neck. The muscles and tissues in the area are gently moved aside to allow greater access to the spine. In order to correct spinal compression, the discs above and below the affected vertebra(e) are removed, along with the middle portion of the bone. A bone graft or metal hardware may be inserted to stabilize the spine after the damaged structures have been removed. The incision used for this procedure is closed with strong sutures that will leave a thin scar, although this usually fades with time. The entire procedure takes approximately 3 to 4 hours to perform, depending on the severity of the condition.
Recovery from Anterior Cervical Corpectomy
After surgery, patients will stay in the hospital for 4 to 7 days in order to facilitate proper healing. There may be some pain at the incision site, although this can usually be managed with prescribed pain medications. Some symptoms of spinal compression are relieved immediately; others continue to improve gradually. Most patients are able to get up and walk a few hours after their procedure. Patients will be advised about when they can return to work and physical exercise on an individual basis.
Risks of Anterior Cervical Corpectomy
As with any type of surgical procedure for the spine, anterior cervical corpectomy is associated with certain risks. These risks may include: infection, excessive bleeding, damage to the spinal cord or nerve roots, or adverse reaction to medication or anesthesia.