What is a Cervical Corpectomy?
Cervical corpectomy or vertebrectomy refers to the removal and replacement of a vertebra and the intervertebral discs above and below it. This is usually done because they are compressing the spinal cord in the neck. A length of bone or a synthetic cage containing bone fragments or artificial bone replaces the vertebra and discs to form a strut to maintain the normal height and alignment of the neck. The bone graft will fuse with the vertebra above and below, to form a solid, stable mass.
A corpectomy can be used to replace a number of adjacent vertebrae, in which case an additional posterior fusion with metal screws and rods may be required to maintain stability of the graft while it fuses.
A cervical corpectomy may be required for patients experiencing pain, weakness or numbness in the arms or legs caused by the compression of the front of the spinal cord. The structures that can compress the anterior spinal cord include the vertebral body, the intervertebral disc and the posterior longitudinal ligament.
Diseases causing this include:
- Infected bone
- Malignant bone
- Fractured vertebral bodies
- Degenerative disc disease
- Spinal instability
- Ossified posterior longitudinal ligament
The goals of a cervical corpectomy are to remove any pressure from the adjacent spinal cord, and to stabilize the spine in a pain-free, normal alignment.