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Nerves experiencing compression (often due to bone spurs on the vertebrae causing the spinal column to narrow) can result in neck pain, arm numbness, weakness, or other related symptoms. An anterior cervical corpectomy decompresses the spinal cord and affected nerves within the spine, helping to relieve the symptoms.
(Includes ACDs and corpectomies)
Anything that damages or impinges
on the cervical portion of the spinal cord can lead to a cervical myelopathy. Some possible causes include tumors, trauma, viruses, herniated discs, or autoimmune diseases. The most common cause is a degenerative change due to arthritis.
Degenerative changes that occur with conditions such as arthritis can affect the ligaments, discs, and joints in the spine. These changes put pressure on the spinal cord by compressing it or causing the cord to become narrowed. This narrowing of the cervical spinal cord is called cervical stenosis. When the cervical spine becomes too tight, it compresses the spinal cord. This leads to the symptoms of myelopathy.
Corpectomy refers to the removal of an entire cervical vertebral body as well as the discs above and below, followed by reconstruction across the decompression using bere from a bone bank or a synthetic cage. An anterior metallic plate to stabilize the reconstruction is normally used as well.
Most people who undergo an anterior cervical corpectomy experience reduced pain, although improvement may take longer for some patients. The surgery may also prevent further loss of nerve and spinal cord function.
As with any surgery, there is the potential for complications. For example, there is the possibility that the graft does not fuse with the vertebrae properly. This can result in continued pain and may require further surgery. Problems can also arise with the hardware used to support the graft. The plate or screws can loosen or break, press against the structures of the neck (such as the esophagus), and lead to difficulty swallowing.
Other potential complications include infection, poor wound healing, excessive bleeding, stroke, blood clots, nerve damage, or paralysis. There could also be a negative reaction to the anesthesia and the possibility that the symptoms persist despite the surgery.
Surgery is a big decision, so it is important to discuss the risks and benefits of anterior cervical corpectomy with the surgeon before undergoing the procedure. He should be able to answer all of your questions and provide you with an understanding of what to expect after the surgery is complete.
Tom Wascher M.D. will review your imaging studies free of charge or, if needed, provide you with a second opinion. He has performed over 4,000+ cervical spine surgeries during his career including over 600 corpectomies and wants to see that you receive the best treatment possible. He is a competent and caring surgeon who has your best interests in mind.
Vanessa had years of neck pain leaving her unable to even do her daily work. But with Dr. Wascher’s quick and timely intervention that included multiple viewings of MRIs, muscle and nerve tests, followed by a 3-Level Anterior Cervical Fusion, she is now happy without any neck issues. “I can happily say that by following the recommendations of Dr. Wascher, I am now pain-free,” says Vanessa as she talks about how great Dr. Wascher and his team were to work with.
When Nanette experienced deep pain in her shoulder, she got tests performed only to discover that she in fact had issues with her neck instead. After a few MRIs and scans, she contacted Dr. Wascher, who told her that she has bone spurs going into the spinal cord. Within a span of 3 weeks, she was able to go through surgery and get on the road to recovery. “I cannot say enough about Dr. Wascher’s expertise and empathy”, says Nanette as she joins an ever-growing community of people who, through Dr. Wascher and his team, have found happiness again.