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Anterior Cervical Corpectomy

Anterior Cervical Corpectomy is performed when a patient has severe compression of the spinal cord caused by disease or injury. In most cases, patients have difficulty moving or turning their head. To get relief from the pain and to restore mobility, neurosurgeons at WakeMed perform cervical corpectomy, a reconstructive cervical spinal surgery that removes one or more discs and vertebrae pressing on the spinal cord. They are replaced with a titanium cage and bone that is grafted to provide stability.

Learn what to expect from surgery

The surgeon accesses the spine from the anterior (front) of the neck, moving aside soft tissue to reach the damaged portion of the cervical spine. The discs and vertebrae are removed so that pressure is released from the spinal cord and surrounding nerves. In the empty space, a cage is inserted and expanded to the correct height. A bone graft is done, typically using the patient’s bone from the hip. If that is not possible, donor bone is used or an artificial graft is used in combination with the patient’s spinal bone tissue.

A tiny metal plate is attached to the vertebrae using screws, giving stability to the spine. Over time, the graft heals and fuses to the vertebrae. The neck is closed and a hard cervical collar is fitted over the site. This protects and gives the graft time to heal, which normally takes eight to 12 weeks.

After surgery, patients will remain in the hospital for a few days. While activities will be limited, patients are encouraged to walk for exercise. No heavy lifting is allowed for the first six to eight weeks. This surgery has a lengthy recovery due to the time it takes for the graft to fuse to the vertebrae.