Anterior Cervical Corpectomy

 

Procedure  

Removal of the vertebral body (see Normal structure of the Spine) through the front of the neck. It also includes removal of the disc above and below of the vertebral body. This is then replaced with a bone graft (artificial or bone from the pelvis) or a cage. A plate is inserted connecting the vertebra above and below the removed vertebral body. Depending on the underlying cause and extend of disease, additional stabilisation from the back of the neck (cervical lateral mass fusion) might be necessary.

Indication 

Decompression of spinal cord (myelopathy) and nerve roots (radiculopathy), removal of a diseased vertebra (i.e.tumour, infection, fracture)

Risks            

Infection, bleeding, cerebrospinal fluid leak, neurological damage including paralysis, hoarse voice which is usually transient but can be permanent (due to injury of the recurrent laryngeal nerve which supplies the ‘voice box’), stroke, no improvement of symptoms, death in cases of high cervical cord injuries, failure of inserted bone-graft, cage or plates causing instability. Overall the risks are similar to anterior cervical discectomy and fusion but depending on the underlying cause and number of vertebral bodies removed, the risks are higher.

Hospital Stay

Depending on underlying problem and extend of surgery

Anaesthesia

Always General Anaesthesia

Recovery

The neck might feel sore for a short time and sometimes can radiate between the shoulder blades. Patients can experience slight discomfort when swallowing. A collar is often necessary postoperatively.

Commonly asked questions

When do I need an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion and when a corpectomy?
Both procedures can be done at several levels. In degenerative disease a corpectomy is not commonly performed but indicated in certain circumstances. In an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion only the intervertebral discs are removed but not the vertebral body like in the corpectomy.

How many vertebral bodies can be removed?
It is very uncommon to do more than 2 or 3 levels.