Many people suffer from the neck pain. However, most of the neck pains do not need any kind of surgeries. But, in some cases, the neck pain that is caused from the degenerative changes, occurring in the cervical spine could lead to severe and serious conditions. The serious conditions are because of increased pressure over the spinal cord. In such condition, the entire spinal cord becomes dangerous. So, surgical procedure is required to perform to remove the degenerative vertebrae and then it is replaced with a bone graft. This surgical procedure is termed as cervical corpectomy spine surgery or strut graft. Meaning of the corpectomy is ‘remove the body’, as corpus means the body and the remaining term ectomy is to remove.
Need for the Surgery
When the neck pain is caused by the spinal stenosis, the cervical corpectomy spine surgery would be needed. So, it is performed to remove the pressure came on the spinal cord that is usually caused from bone spurs. It is also needed to stop the abnormal motion generated in between vertebrae.
The procedure starts with an incision made over the front part of the neck and it starts from right beside the trachea or windpipe. Then the muscles in the site are moved to one side. Similarly the nerves and arteries are also protected. The spine is reached through its front side. X-ray is conducted to identify the vertebra and each of the disc. The right disc and vertebra are removed after identifying the one that is problematic. Removal of the discs and vertebra is done through the back of the spinal cord. At the same time the bone spurs, when found to be sticking to the back part of the vertebra are also removed. Much care has to be taken to ensure that the nerve roots and spinal cords are not damaged.
After the vertebral bodies that cause the problem are removed, there would be certain space left in between them. So, the space must be filled. So, structural bone graft is considered to fill into it. This strut graft that is used for filling could be either autograft or allograft. Autograft is the one, taken from the bone in the leg of the patient. Allograft means the small bone that is taken from the donor.
After the filling is done, internal fixation has to be done, to ensure that the bone graft and vertebra is held in the right place. This internal fixation is done with the help of a metal plate. It is placed on front part of the cervical spine and then it will be attached to the plate. The plate attaches the strut graft and the remaining part of the vertebra with the help of metal screws.
After the Procedure
Cervical corpectomy spine surgery is an uncommon procedure and so, the patient has to be very careful after the surgery. So, halo jacket is needed to be worn to ensure that the head is still perfectly. It is important during the period of healing and fusing of the vertebrae.
Since this is a serious operation, the patient has to be restricted to many activities. It is very important during the early phases of healing, right after the surgery. Much rehabilitation is not been able to be done with the halo jacket. But, it is necessary to work to ensure that the leg and arm strength intact. A physical therapist supports to perform the exercises needed at this phase of healing after the surgery.
Complications are more, while surgery is performed with spinal cord or spine. General complications can be impairment, subsequent surgery or sometimes additional surgery is needed.