Cervical Corpectomy and Strut Graft
Many cervical problems occur due to degenerative changes in the discs and joints of the neck. Unfortunately, these changes commonly take place as a natural part of aging and from the effects of daily wear and tear on the parts of the spine. Also, degenerative changes in the neck sometimes lead to a serious condition where pressure occurs on the spinal cord. Normally, doctors can relieve the pressure by removing the degenerative vertebrae and replacing them with a bone graft. Also, this refers to a procedure called a corpectomy and strut graft.
Learn about cervical corpectomy and strut graft including
- The effects of the cervical spine
- The reason for the procedure
- Expectations and possible complications from this procedure
Questions and Answers
What is Cervical Corpectomy and Strut Graft
A cervical corpectomy and strut graft describe a surgical procedure. Surgeons perform this procedure to remove cervical vertebrae (bones of the neck) and replace them with a bone graft. It is typically done to relieve pressure on the spinal cord or nerve roots caused by a medical condition. Such conditions relate to cervical spondylosis, herniated discs, spinal stenosis, or tumors. During the procedure, the affected vertebral body and any associated structures, such as discs or bone spurs, are removed. A bone graft, often taken from the patient’s own body or a bone bank, is then placed in the empty space to promote fusion and stability.
When is Cervical Corpectomy and Strut Graft Recommended
A cervical corpectomy and strut graft are recommended when conservative treatments like medication, physical therapy, or injections fail to provide relief from symptoms caused by spinal cord or nerve compression in the cervical spine. It is commonly performed in cases where there is significant spinal cord compression, severe cervical disc herniation, bone spurs, or tumors affecting multiple vertebral levels. The procedure aims to decompress the spinal cord, restore stability to the neck, and alleviate symptoms such as neck pain, arm pain, weakness, or numbness.
What is the Recovery Process After a Cervical Corpectomy and Strut Graft
The recovery process following a cervical corpectomy and strut graft can vary depending on individual factors and the extent of the surgery. Generally, patients will spend a few days in the hospital for close monitoring. During the early stages of recovery, a neck brace or collar may be required to provide support and limit motion. Physical therapy may be initiated to improve mobility, strengthen neck muscles, and promote healing. The complete recovery period can range from several weeks to a few months, and it may involve follow-up appointments, imaging tests, and ongoing rehabilitation. It is important to follow post-operative instructions provided by the surgeon, take prescribed medications as directed, and gradually resume normal activities under medical guidance.
In order to understand a patient’s symptoms and treatment choices, one should understand a basic understanding of the anatomy of the neck. Additionally, this includes becoming familiar with the various parts that make up the cervical spine and how they work together.
By removing one or several vertebras by a procedure called a corpectomy, the spinal cord will see less pressure. Furthermore, Corpus means “body” and ectomy means “remove.” Removing the discs between the vertebrae also takes place.
After the removal of the vertebral body (or bodies), a cervical fusion takes place. When the surgeon removes one or more vertebrae, a bone graft fills the space. As the bone graft heals, it fuses to the intact vertebrae above and below it. Then the bone graft provides structural support to the cervical spine.
In the cervical corpectomy procedure, the surgeon removes the vertebrae from the front. Then the surgeon makes an incision in the front of the neck beside the trachea (windpipe). Subsequently, the muscles are moved to the side and the arteries and nerves become protected.
Upon reaching the front of the spine, the surgeon uses an X-ray to identify the correct vertebrae and discs. The surgeon identifies the vertebral bodies and discs causing the problems and removes them all the way back to the spinal cord. Bone spurs that extend from the back of the vertebrae toward the spinal canal are removed as well. Special care reduces the risk of damaging the spinal cord and nerve roots.
Once the removal of the vertebrae and discs takes place, the space between the vertebrae above and below must get filled. Doctors typically implant a graft of bone into the void of space. In addition, the section of bone graft works like a “strut” to support the spine. The formation of the strut can take place by taking bone from your hip (pelvis) or from the fibula bone in your leg. Bone taken from your own body refers to an autograft. Your surgeon may also use an allograft, which refers to bone taken from a source other than your body and stored in a bone bank.
When installing a bone graft, metal (titanium) plates, and screws secure it so that it does not move or slip. Furthermore, the plate sits on the front of the remaining vertebrae, covering the strut graft. To hold the plate in place and keep the bone graft from slipping, screws are placed into the vertebral bodies above and below the graft
Like all surgical procedures, operations on the neck may generate complications. Because the surgeon operates around the spinal cord, neck operations are always considered extremely delicate and potentially dangerous. Before having this procedure, patients should take the time to fully review the risks associated with cervical spine surgery with their doctor — making sure they agree and understand the risks and the benefits of the procedure planned for their treatment.
Doctors advise that neck operations require a neck brace because the operations are serious and complex; therefore, requiring a brace after surgery helps heal the procedure. And some patients may need the extra support of a halo brace. On the other hand, most patients do not require rehabilitation after this surgery. However, if a patient experiences pain or difficulty doing routine activities, a short rehab under the direction of a physical therapist can certainly help
Finally, once the fusion becomes healed, the patient may progress toward a more vigorous rehabilitation program.
Why choose the Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute
The following are just a few of the many reasons why patients might choose Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute.
- Expertise in the spine: The specialists at Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute comprise a talented team of spine experts. They specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of spinal conditions, ensuring the best possible care for their patients.
- Cutting-edge technology: Our practice uses the latest technology and techniques to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions. In addition, we use minimally invasive procedures that reduce pain and promote faster recovery.
- Comprehensive care: Our practice offers a full range of services, from diagnostic imaging and physical therapy to surgery. We ensure that patients receive complete, seamless care for their spinal conditions.
- Dedicated facilities: Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute is dedicated to providing patients with a safe and comfortable environment.
Finally, our board-certified physicians and fellowship-trained orthopedic surgeons use the full range of treatments to treat their spine patients. Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute’s experts with offices in Dallas, Plano, and Frisco, Texas offer cutting-edge technology, comprehensive care, and dedicated facilities to ensure the best possible care for their patients. Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment.
If you or a loved one suffers from spinal pain, you owe it to yourself to call Southwest Scoliosis and Spine Institute at 214-556-0555 to make an appointment.