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What is corpectomy?

A corpectomy is a sophisticated surgical procedure used to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord and nerves. It involves removing a portion or entire affected vertebral body, as well as herniated or degenerative discs, as a means of adequate decompression. In an anterior cervical corpectomy, the surgery is performed from the front of the neck, allowing direct access to the cervical region, which is the uppermost part of the spine. A thoracic corpectomy is performed in the upper or middle back.

Unlike a discectomy, which focuses only on removing the affected disc material, an anterior cervical corpectomy at NeuroSpine Plus is a more involved approach. It entails removing segments of the spine while addressing structural abnormalities. This surgery is typically reserved for cases where the spinal condition extends beyond what a discectomy can effectively treat.

At NeuroSpine Plus, we prioritize precision and patient well-being. Our skilled surgeons practice this procedure to treat severe spinal conditions, providing relief and improving the spinal health of our patients.


What conditions are treated with a coprectomy?

A corpectomy is often performed as a means of adequate decompression of severe spinal stenosis A thoracic corpectomy or a cervical corpectomy can also treat:

At NeuroSpine Plus, we prioritize the patient-centered approach. Our providers will address your every concern, prepare you for the appropriate treatment path, and work with you to relieve your pain.

How is a corpectomy performed?

At NeuroSpine Plus, our team of trained neurosurgeons performs an advanced surgical technique to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord.

Before your surgery, your doctor will provide you with instructions to include but are not limited to:

  • No eating or drinking after midnight the night prior to your procedure
  • Stop taking certain medications such as anti-inflammatories or blood thinners
  • Wash the surgical area with antibacterial soap the night before, and the morning of, your procedure

Before the surgery, you will be given general anesthesia by a trained anesthesiologist. You will be completely asleep before the procedure begins. Once you are anesthetized, our team of experienced neurosurgeons and physician assistants will perform the following procedure:  

  1. Incision is made: A horizontal incision around 1-2 inches will be made on either side of your neck. If several discs need to be removed, the incision may be vertical for easier access removal. Once the incision has been made, your anterior neck muscles, ligaments, trachea, and esophagus will be gently moved to access the compromised disc.
  2. Disc is excised: Using fluoroscopy, x-rays are taken to confirm the compromised disc space. With use of a microscope, our surgeons then remove all compressive material including portions of the vertebrae, intervertebral disc material and/or osteophytes, ensuring safe decompression of the spinal cord and exiting nerve roots.
  3. Replacement: A disc spacer packed with bone graft is inserted to replace the damaged disc
  4. Fusion: After the graft is placed, a small metal plate may be used to stabilize that area of your spine further. Complete fusion may take up to one year, or more, depending on your condition.
  5. Closure: The incision will be closed with multiple layers of dissolvable sutures and covered with a dry, sterile dressing

You may spend at least one night in the hospital for observation following the procedure, depending on your surgical details, to provide sufficient pain control, monitor your vitals, and ensure a routine recovery period.

What to expect following a corpectomy

Your postoperative healing progress will be closely overseen by our team of providers, ensuring a routine recovery. A member of our team will contact you within the first 48 hours of your procedure to monitor your progress. Your initial post operative appointment will be scheduled within two weeks of your surgical date. A member of our team is always available to answer questions or address your concerns during your recovery period. General postoperative recommendations include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Use of postoperative pain medications as prescribed
  • Over-the-counter Tylenol for pain
  • Advance your diet as tolerated based on your comfort with swallowing
  • Do not strain your voice
  • Avoid excessive neck movement
  • Wear a cervical collar as instructed by your provider
  • Do not smoke
  • Do not drink alcohol
  • Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments
  • Do not use NSAIDs until cleared by your surgeon (Advil, Ibuprofen, Motrin, Aleve, etc)
  • Incision care to include washing your incision with gentle antibacterial soap 48 hours after your procedure. No scrubbing, submerging, or soaking the incision(s). No lotions, creams, oils, or ointments atop the incision(s).

NeuroSpine Plus prioritizes your long-term recovery and will schedule a follow-up consultation approximately 2 weeks after your operation. During this visit, our surgeons will review your postoperative X-ray films to assess the progress of healing and placement of hardware. To support your neck muscles and aid in the healing process, our surgeons at NeuroSpine Plus may advise you to wear a cervical collar. This is commonly recommended for several weeks post-surgery with instructions for continued use discussed at your follow-up appointments. At NeuroSpine Plus, we support an active recovery process and encourage patients to gradually increase their physical activity levels as comfort permits. Walking serves as an optimal form of exercise during the recovery phase while high-impact activities should be avoided. Initiation of post-operative physical therapy sessions will be discussed at subsequent post-operative appointments.

When should you call your doctor following a corpectomy?

If you have concerns during your postoperative period to include, but not limited to the following:

  • High fever greater than 100.4F
  • Change in urinary or bowel habits
  • Swelling or discoloration of one or both calves
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Palpitations
  • Lightheadedness
  • Incisional compromise
  • Loss of strength in your arms or legs

If you have a question regarding your initial postoperative period, a member of our team is always available to answer and address your concerns at 201-399-3388.

Corpectomy FAQ

To further enhance your recovery and increase mobility, NeuroSpine Plus providers may advise participating in post-operative physical therapy several weeks following the procedure.

All surgical procedures have an inherent level of risk associated with them. All risks and benefits associated with undergoing a corpectomy are discussed at length with our board-certified neurosurgeons prior to proceeding with your procedure.

It is possible to experience some changes in mobility and functionality following a corpectomy, especially if the surgery was performed on multiple levels of the spine. However, with proper rehabilitation and physical therapy, most patients can regain their pre-surgery level of function over time.

If you believe you may be a candidate for a corpectomy, call our office today to book your consultation at 201-399-3388.

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