Have you ever heard of an oblique corpectomy? What is it and how does it help with neck pain?
Corpectomy refers to the partial or complete removal of a vertebra. The vertebrae are the bones in the spine. Removing the bone may be necessary when there's been a collapse of the bone or loss of structural integrity that is affecting the spinal cord.
The spinal cord travels through a round tube formed by the vertebral arches just behind the main body (corpus) of the vertebra. This tunnel-like pathway is called the spinal canal. Degenerative changes associated with aging can contribute to pressure being put on the spinal cord as it goes down the canal from the brain to the bottom of the spine.
Oblique corpectomy is the partial removal of part of the vertebral body. The surgeon cuts a portion of the spinal segment out on a diagonal. The result is to widen the spinal canal, thus giving the spinal cord more space.
The advantage of this procedure is that it can be done without fusing the spine. That can mean fewer complications and less risk of vertebral (spinal) instability. It is used with patients who have anterior spinal cord compression. This means the pressure on the spinal cord is toward the front of the spinal canal (closest to the vertebral body).
An oblique corpectomy can be done at just one cervical level. But most of the time, it is used to resect (remove) a part of the vertebral body at several levels. The surgeon tries to take out less than half of the bone. This is called a limited bone resection.
Because all other elements of the vertebral body and two of the three supportive bony columns are left intact, this procedure can be done without fusing the spine at the level of the decompression. And it can be done at multiple levels -- all without needing fusion.
Improvement of symptoms and function is experienced by most patient who have this type of spinal canal expansion. Even with an oblique corpectomy at multiple levels, patients maintain spinal stability with very few patients getting worse instead of better. Patients can get up and move early after the operation and without bracing or immobilization of any kind.