Cervical corpectomy is a surgical procedure performed to remove one or more vertebrae (bones) in the cervical spine (neck). A corpectomy involves removing the front part of the vertebra, the vertebral body. The portion of bone that surrounds and protects the spinal cord is preserved. Bone graft is inserted into the open space and stimulates new bone growth to occur that eventually joins the upper and lower vertebrae together. This is called fusion.
Cervical corpectomy is performed to decompress the nerve roots and/or spinal cord. To decompress (decompression) means to remove something that is compressing (exerting pressure on) a nerve root or the spinal cord. In extreme cases of cervicalspinal stenosis, a condition in which bone thickens and produces bone spurs orosteophytes, neck pain and other symptoms that may radiate (spread) down the neck and into the shoulder, arm, and hand.
In most cases when surgery is warranted, an ACDF (anterior cervical discectomy with fusion) is done, in which only the disc is removed along with enough bone to decompress the nerves. Significant and advanced spinal cord problems must be present for corpectomy to be considered, including severe pain, extreme weakness, numbness, and loss of function of the fine motor skills of the hand.