Preparing for a Corpectomy – Neck Surgery

Corpectomy candidates typically suffer from one or more of the following conditions:

The procedure is more extensive than other types of spinal surgery such as a laminotomy or laminoplasty. This may make it less appropriate for some patients whose spine is not as compromised as other’s in terms of compression. Often a patient with severe cervical stenosis and myelopathy is offered a corpectomy in place of an anterior cervical discectomy with fusion as the latter procedure cannot, on its own, address the severe compression of the spinal cord and/or nerve roots.

Those with a single heavily compacted disc and no other degenerative changes in the cervical spine are unlikely to have this procedure, with a discectomy more likely. A corpectomy does not usually involve the complete removal of the disc, rather just the herniated part and then the vertebral body itself in order to decompress the spinal canal. It is those who have had refractory results with conservative approaches to neck pain and radicular pain and who have evidence, through x-rays, MRI and CT scans, of stenosis that are considered for a corpectomy.

Smoking and Surgery

Patients who smoke have a lower success rate for fusion after this procedure, with physicians likely to recommend a cessation to smoking for a number of weeks prior to the operation in order to rid the body of nicotine. Continuing this smoking ban after surgery is very important to facilitate an optimum recovery. Patients will also undergo a thorough physical to assess their candidacy for surgery. A list of medications, both prescribed and alternative/herbal, will be taken and the doctor will provide guidance on the use of these prior to surgery, such as blood thinners, and NSAIDs which can interfere with the operation and recovery through blood loss and inhibition of fusion.

The Day of Surgery

The patient will be admitted to hospital the morning of the surgery, most likely having been told not eat anything from midnight the night before, and will be checked for any signs of infection or other reasons the operation cannot be carried out. An IV line will be inserted to deliver fluids and a general anaesthetic along with a sedative in some cases. The patient is likely to have their head placed in a clamp or vice to ensure that they remain stable during the procedure on the delicate areas of the cervical spine.

Next read about: Corpectomy Surgical Procedure