Anterior Cervical Corpectomy And Fusion

An anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion is a surgical procedure in which vertebral bone and intervertebral disc material is removed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves in the cervical spine.

The term corpectomy is derived from the Latin words corpus (body) and -ectomy (removal). Removal of one or more vertebral bodies is sometimes necessary if the spinal cord and/or exiting spinal nerves are being compressed by disc and bone which cannot be removed merely by removing the disc(s). The procedure involves accessing the cervical spine through a frontal approach. Spinal fusion is usually necessary because of the amount of vertebral bone and/or disc material that must be removed to achieve sufficient decompression of the neural structures.

Spinal fusion involves placing bone graft or bone graft substitute between two or more affected vertebrae to promote bone growth between the vertebral bodies. The graft material acts as a load-bearing strut, and the vertebral bone and substance of the strut eventually grow together to stabilize the spine.

Why Might I Need This Procedure?

Nerve compression in the cervical spine can cause neck pain and/or pain, numbness and weakness that extends into the shoulders, arms and hands. Compression of the spinal cord is more serious, and may lead to sensory disturbance in arms, legs or trunk; weakness or paralysis in arms or legs; disturbance in male sexual function; or loss of control of bowel and bladder.

Compression of cervical nerves and/or cervical spinal cord can occur due to arthritis, ageing changes in the spine, tumours or trauma.

Dr. Brazenor will tell you if cervical corpectomy and fusion is the best operation for you, in the event that you are forced sooner or later to resort to surgery.

Dr. Brazenor will always explain your non-surgical option (if there is one) as well as the surgical option along with its success rate, failure rate and risks. Except when cancer or dangerous spinal instability is present, it is always Dr. Brazenor's advice that if you are then not sure about having surgery, you should choose not to have surgery for the moment. Stop, think, and let some time pass, and the correct way for you to manage your condition will become clear.

How Is A Cervical Corpectomy Performed?

Cervical Corpectomy

Through an incision on the front of your neck, your surgeon will:

  • Gently retract the muscles and tissues of the neck to expose the anterior vertebral column
  • Remove portions of one/more vertebral bodies and intervertebral discs to access the compressed neural structures
  • Relieve the pressure by removing the source of the compression
  • Place a strut of bone, PEEK plastic or titanium between the adjacent vertebrae at the decompression site
  • In some cases (depending on the type of construct) the surgeon will attach instrumentation such as plating and screws, to the front of the spine to provide extra support and stability while fusion and healing occurs
Anterior Cervical Corpectomy-Fusion

How Long Will It Take Me To Recover?

Dr. Brazenor will advise you in general terms about your likely postoperative course, but will stress that your final surgical expectations must come from the surgeon or surgeons to whom he refers you. Dr. Brazenor's pledge is that he will only refer you to surgeons whom he knows are capable of doing the operation you need.

Are There Any Potential Risks Or Complications?

Any surgery and anaesthesia can result in injury or even, rarely, death. One only has to read the newspaper to confirm that fact. Complications such as infection, nerve damage, blood clots, blood loss and bowel and bladder problems, along with complications associated with anaesthesia, are some of the potential risks of spinal surgery. A potential risk inherent to spinal fusion is failure of the vertebral bone and graft to properly fuse, a condition that may require additional surgery.

Your surgeon will tell you the types and magnitudes of risks for you if you undergo a given procedure.