What is Anterior Cervical Corpectomy?
A corpectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove the vertebral body and disc spaces in order to relieve pressure on the nerves within the spine caused by stenosis or bone spurs. Patients with these conditions often experience pain in the affected area, as well as numbness, tingling or weakness in the extremities.
As its name suggests, an anterior cervical corpectomy involves approaching the problem area from the anterior, or front, of the body. It focuses on the cervical spine, which refers to the uppermost portion of the spine near the neck.
At Princeton Neurological Surgery, we specialize in spine surgery in New Jersey. At our Hamilton office, Dr. John Lipani has helped many patients relieve their pain and reclaim their quality through an anterior cervical corpectomy.
See What Our Patients Have To Say!
“Dr. Lipani is the finest neurosurgeon! Compassionate, Caring, Down to Earth with his professionalism; he is the best! My son Alan, had an L-4/ L/5 Spine Fusion, 7.5 hour surgery and I can not thank the “Great Doctor”/Surgeon for his dedication, kindness and caring.” – Alan B.
“The Doctor outstanding in every way possible. Explaining every detail and taking his time to do so. Amazing for a surgeon to be so informing of the procedure to me and my wife. After the surgery he came out and explained everything to me. My wife is doing great after the cervical spine fusion, moving her arm in ways she hasn’t in years and getting her feeling back in her fingers” – Anthony R.
“Dr. Lipani and his staff are excellent. Dr. Lipani was very thorough. He explained what needed to be treated and why. He has terrific bedside manners. He answered all my questions patiently. Did not rush me at any time. I recommended him to one of my friends and she was extremely happy with him too.” – Poornima S.
The Anterior Cervical Corpectomy Procedure
The anterior cervical corpectomy procedure is performed under general anesthesia in a hospital setting. During this surgery, an incision is made in the side of the neck. The muscles and tissues in the area will be gently moved aside to allow for greater access to the spine. In order to correct spinal compression, the discs above and below the affected vertebra are removed, along with the middle portion of the bone.
A bone graft or metal hardware may be inserted to stabilize the spine after the damaged structures have been removed. The incision used for this procedure is closed with strong sutures that will leave a thin scar, although this usually fades with time. The entire procedure takes approximately three to four hours to perform, depending on the severity of the condition.
Who Is a Candidate for Anterior Cervical Corpectomy?
Candidates for the anterior cervical corpectomy procedure are patients who experience symptoms such as pain, numbness, or weakness from spinal cord progression. This procedure is also recommended for patients with degenerative conditions of the cervical spine, such as bone spurs or herniated discs.
When Is an Anterior Cervical Corpectomy Performed?
The anterior cervical corpectomy will be considered a logical treatment for degenerative changes in the cervical spine if a patient has not responded after taking pain medications or undergoing physical therapy treatment. If pain does not improve for the patient after these treatments, surgery will be recommended. The anterior cervical corpectomy procedure is typically performed when:
- Symptoms are unresponsive to non-operative treatments such as medication
- Pain is extremely unmanageable
- The spinal cord is compressed
- The patient can no longer control their bladder or bowels
- The patient experiences a progressive neurologic deficit
- The patient has difficulty walking
Risks of Anterior Cervical Corpectomy
As with any type of surgical procedure for the spine, anterior cervical corpectomy can be associated with certain risks. These complications may include infection, bleeding, damage to the spinal cord and damage to nerve roots in the area. Your doctor will discuss these risks with you prior to surgery.
How Can I Prepare for My Anterior Cervical Corpectomy?
Preparing ahead of time for your procedure can lead to a complication-free operation and recovery. Before your anterior cervical corpectomy, do the following:
- Stop any medications that may interfere with your procedure
- Inform your surgeon of any allergies you may have
- Arrange transportation with a loved one
- If you stay overnight, pack a bag of comfortable clothing and toiletries
- Prepare your home for comfort and mobility
- Arrive at your procedure without contact lenses, eyeglasses, makeup, or dentures
Recovery from Anterior Cervical Corpectomy
After surgery, patients will stay in the hospital for four to seven days in order to facilitate proper healing. There may be some pain at the incision site, although this can usually be managed through pain medications prescribed by your doctor. Symptom relief is usually noticeable right away, and will continue to improve gradually. Most patients can get up and walk around a few hours after their procedure. Your doctor will advise you as to when you can return to work and physical exercise.
Will I Need Rehabilitation or Physical Therapy After My Procedure?
The need for rehabilitation will depend on the patient’s ability to heal from the procedure. Most patients need about 4-6 weeks of rest-focused recovery before beginning physical therapy, but it’s important to note it can be prescribed.
What Are the Benefits of an Anterior Cervical Corpectomy?
An anterior cervical corpectomy can not only correct damage to the cervical spine, but it can also correct fractures or dislocations of the bones, ligaments, and tendons that protect the spinal cord. Overall, this procedure can provide patients with high relief from pain, numbness, and weakness. The anterior cervical corpectomy procedure can allow patients to live a pain-free, healthier, more active lifestyle.