The cervical area of the spine is found in the neck area. There are seven cervical vertebras, numbered C1 through C7. The cervical vertebrae are smaller than the vertebra of the spine found in the chest or torso and lumbar or lower back region. The cervical vertebrae offer support and protection for the spinal cord, the skull, and enable you to turn your head from side to side as well as bend backward and forward.
Injury to any of the cervical vertebrae may affect movement of the head and neck, upper body muscles, your wrist, hands, triceps muscles as well as your diaphragm. A corpectomy is a procedure that removes a portion of the vertebra and surrounding intervertebral discs in order to relieve pressure against the spinal cord and spinal nerves found in the neck.
Anyone experiencing a compressed vertebra or spinal nerve in the neck area that has not responded to any form of nonsurgical treatment or exercise may benefit from a cervical corpectomy. Compression against spinal nerves or the spinal cord in the neck region may cause tingling of the hands, arms, and shoulders. Pain, limited range of motion and reduced mobility and function may be relieved by a cervical corpectomy procedure.
Individuals diagnosed with cervical stenosis or bone spurs in the neck area may also benefit from the removal of portions or the entire damaged vertebra as well as the intravertebral discs found directly above and beneath the affected vertebra.
The patient will be placed in the prone position, meaning lying on his stomach. An incision is made at the back of the neck. An incision may also be made on either side of the neck on either side of the affected disc. For repair of more than one disc, a longer single incision may be required, or the doctor may choose to make a series of paired incisions on either side of the neck. In addition, and depending on the procedure, the patient may also have an incision made over the crest of their hipbone for a bone graft.
Surgical instruments are inserted into the incision points to offer a larger surgical field for viewing. The discs cushioning the vertebra are inspected. The discs directly above and below the involved vertebra will be removed, and the damaged or middle portion of the vertebra will be removed. This allows relief of pressure against spinal nerves and the spinal cord itself.
A bone graft taken from the hip will be inserted into the now open space between the vertebras. Such bone grafts are generally 1 to 2 inches in length. Plates, screws, or specially designed "cages" may be placed into the vertebral position to help support the cervical portion of the neck during the fusion process. As the bone heals, it will grow around the screws and cervical plates, or the cervical plates and screws may be removed as the bone graft fuses to the remaining portions of the vertebrae.
The specific approach, goal, and technique used in the cervical corpectomy procedure will determine whether bone grafts attach solely to other portions of the spinal vertebra, or whether they grow around plates or screws utilized in the fusion process.
Cervical corpectomy surgical procedures are generally performed by an orthopedic surgeon specializing in spine care in addition to a neurosurgeon as well as a vascular or general surgeon. Surgeons should be chosen according to their expertise and experience in related fields. Physicians and surgeons should be certified in their field, and show membership in national or regional boards or associations in his or her country of origin.
Whenever possible, consumers are encouraged to get more than one opinion before engaging in any type of spinal surgery, as well as making sure that facilities, surgeons, and healthcare staff are accredited by international associations and organizations to ensure quality of equipment, technology, as well as quality of care by medical staff.
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