Anterior Cervical Spine Surgery
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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 (decompression) in the cervical spine, or neck.
When the cervical disease encompasses more than just the disc space, the spine surgeon may recommend removal of the vertebral body as well as the disc spaces at either end to completely decompress the cervical canal.
This cervical spine surgery procedure, a cervical corpectomy, is often done for multi-level cervical stenosis with spinal cord compression caused by bone spur (osteophytes) growth.
What Is An Anterior Cervical Corpectomy And Fusion?
The cervical spine surgery procedure typically involves accessing the cervical spine through an anterior approach, or from the front. 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. If using the patient’s own bone, an incision is made over the hip to harvest bone from the iliac crest. For the corpectomy, a small incision is made on either side of the neck. (A longer “up and down” incision may be required for multiple corpectomies). The graft material acts as a binding medium and also helps maintain normal disc height – as the body heals, the vertebral bone and bone graft eventually grow together to join the vertebrae and stabilize the spine.
Why Do I Need This Procedure?
Nerve compression in the cervical can cause neck pain and/or pain, numbness and weakness that extends into the shoulders, arms and hands.
Degenerative spinal conditions, including herniated discs and bone spurs, are common causes of spinal nerve compression. Spinal fracture, tumor or infection also may result in pressure on the spinal nerves.
To determine whether your condition requires treatment with an anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion, your doctor will examine your spine and take your medical history, and may order an x-ray, computed tomography (CT) scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan of your cervical vertebrae. An anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion is typically recommended only after conservative treatment methods fail. Your surgeon will take a number of factors into consideration before making this recommendation, including the condition to be treated, your age, health and lifestyle and your anticipated level of activity following surgery. Please discuss this treatment option thoroughly with your spinal care provider.
How Long Will It Take Me To Recover?
Your surgeon will have a specific postoperative recovery plan to help you return to your normal activity level as soon as possible after the cervical spine surgery. Most patients experience only mild discomfort at the operative site, which is generally well controlled with oral pain medicines. A mild sore throat is not uncommon and is usually short lived. Most patients are discharged from the hospital in 24-48 hours after the cervical spine surgery. Following an anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion, you may notice an immediate improvement of some or all of your symptoms; other symptoms may improve more gradually. The amount of time that you have to stay in the hospital will depend on your treatment plan. How quickly you return to work and your normal activities will depend on how well your body heals and the type of work/activity level you plan to return to. A successful outcome will depend on your compliance with the health care provider’s recommendations, and a realistic expectation for meeting the goals of surgery (which depend on one’s condition preoperatively).
Work closely with your spinal surgeon to determine the appropriate recovery protocol for you, and follow his or her instructions to optimize the healing process after your cervical spine surgery.
To determine whether you are a candidate for an anterior cervical corpectomy and fusion, please contact Dr. Lenard.