Lumbar Corpectomy

A corpectomy is a surgical procedure to remove a vertebral body, usually to decompress the spinal cord.

In this surgery, the vertebral bodies and adjacent vertebral discs are removed in order to alleviate the pressure on the spinal cord, which is causing spinal stenosis.  A bone graft is then inserted into the space to allow for a fusion of the bone segments into one long bone. The procedure can also be used treat some fractures, tumors, infections or spinal deformities.  The anterior approach is favorable because the incision is made on the side of the body as opposed to an incision on the back (posterior approach) enabling the surgeon to view the spine without retracting the spinal cord. This reduces the risk of neurologic injury from the procedure.

The patient is placed on his side on the operating table and the surgeon makes an incision over the affected spinal areas. The internal organs are moved to expose the spine. He then drills out and removes the affected vertebrae and any disc material or bone spurs around it. Since a corpectomy removes the entire vertebral bone, the spine must be reconstructed where the vertebrae were removed. Reconstruction is done with metal or plastic spacers inserted to occupy the space where the vertebrae were removed and secured in place with rods and screws. At times the surgeon may cover the entire area with a plate to stabilize the spine as it heals. Depending on the case, the patient may require a second operation from a posterior approach to further stabilize the spine. This usually occurs between one to four days after the first operation.

The success rate for an anterior lumbar corpectomy is fairly high, around 70%. Complications can be significant. The position in which the body is placed during surgery can result in pressure sores and nerve injuries. Men may experience retrograde ejaculation due to nerve injury near the front of the spine. This is a condition where semen enters the bladder as opposed to exiting through the urethra during ejaculation. Spinal cord and nerve injuries can causes paralysis and loss of bladder and bowel function. In some cases the fusion does not heal properly and requires a second operation.

If you have any questions contact any of our office locations conveniently located to the Dallas, Irving, Red Oak, Plano, Southlake, Grapevine, Colleyville and Duncanville areas.