Cervical Corpectomy - Neck Surgery
A corpectomy is a surgical procedure to remove part or the whole of a vertebral body. This is done as a way of decompressing the spinal column to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and the spinal nerves. The operation is frequently performed in tandem with a discectomy, whether whole or partial, and is followed by fusion. A corpectomy is warranted in cases where multi-level cervical spinal stenosis is present due to osteophyte growth and, usually, associated disc ruptures or herniated disc in neck.
The procedure can be very extensive, and there are risks associated with the longer operation time, invasiveness, and protracted recovery period. Patients are likely to have to wear a hard cervical collar, or in some cases a halo brace, after surgery in order to keep the neck still and allow the graft to fuse correctly. Pain medications may be used after surgery for period, but the long term use of analgesics is significantly reduced by the majority of corpectomies as patient’s radicular pain, neck pain, and neck stiffness are alleviated.
Decompressing the Spine
Those with severe and longstanding spinal stenosis are likely to achieve successful decompression of the cervical spine with a corpectomy, where another procedure such as an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion, would likely not accomplish this task effectively. Neck pain, numbness, and weakness are likely to be much reduced, although the pre-operative degeneration may have become intractable in some cases.
Along with this risk of any surgery failing to ameliorate the patient’s neck pain and suffering, there are the usual risks associated with surgery such as blood loss, anaesthesia issues, hypotension, and infection. Specific risks associated with corpectomy include problems with the laryngeal nerve, thoracic duct, vertebral artery, and spinal cord with ramifications for vocal function, mobility, and stroke. Risks are very low, with improvements in technique having further reduced the incidence of serious complication.
Next read about: Preparing for a Corpectomy
Last Updated: 11/11/2010