Having Cervical Corpectomy
Similar to ACDF, cervical corpectomy is performed using an anterior (from the front) approach to surgery.
Once the incision is made and the esophagus, muscles and trachea are moved off to the side, the surgeon has immediate access to the front of the cervical spine.
Using fluoroscopic guidance and a microscope, the correct level is identified, confirmed, and carefully operated on.
In the case of single-level cervical corpectomy, the vertebral body, as well as the discs located above and below it, are removed.
Then, the bone and ligaments are carefully lifted up off the spinal cord in order to relieve compression.
Cervical corpectomy requires placing a large structural cage in the empty space once the disc(s) are removed to reestablish stability, provide a buttress for fusion, and restore normal lordosis (curve).
In some instances, plates and screws are also inserted into the spine in order to further stabilize it during spinal fusion.
Sometimes your surgeon will supplement the construct with a posterior cervical surgery if additional decompression or fixation is needed.
How Cervical Corpectomy Works
Cervical corpectomy relies on direct decompression of the spinal canal in order to relieve symptoms.
The removal of the entirety of the discs located above and below the vertebral body allows the surgeon a more direct view of that portion of the spinal cord and ensures it is free of compression, along with the nerves above and below the level in question.
Benefits of Cervical Corpectomy
Depending on your specific problem, a cervical corpectomy may be the only way to access the offending agents and remove them directly.
Because there is less muscle disruption from an anterior approach, recovery is typically faster.
However, oftentimes these procedures are performed in conjunction with posterior surgery. Your surgeon will explain to you if this is needed, and how it will affect your recovery.
Corpectomy is a great option for patients with failed previous surgery, severe compression from the front, or tumors of the cervical spine.
Recovering from Cervical Corpectomy
For patients undergoing a single-level corpectomy, you may be discharged from the hospital within 72 hours.
Multi-level cervical corpectomy generally requires a longer hospital stay due to the more invasive nature of the procedure and likely will involve additional posterior surgery.
Some patients require short-term rehabilitation depending on the extent of surgery or their symptoms.
Generally, patients wear a cervical collar for a month after surgery, start physical therapy by month 2, and return to their normal activity by 6 months.
For the first month after surgery, we recommend avoiding twisting, bending, or lifting objects greater than 10lbs.
Walking and sitting upright will be helpful in engaging your neck muscles to promote healing.