How is the procedure performed?
After an incision is made, care is taken to remove the diseased and damaged parts of the vertebral bone. This relives pressure from the nerve roots. The discs above and below the affected vertebra are removed along with any diseased vertebral fragments. The bone surfaces are cleared and prepared to receive a bone graft. Bolts are screwed into the vertebrae above and below the gap to help the surgeon perform the rest of the procedure. The surgeon opens the vertebral space and corrects the spinal column curvature. This is known as reduction of deformity.
While the vertebral space is open, the bone graft is inserted. Closing the vertebral space secures the bone graft tightly into place. A piece of metal called a Zplate is placed onto the two bolts, bridging the vertebrae levels above and below the bone graft. Two nuts hold the Zplate in place, and two additional screws are inserted. The Zplate keeps the area secure while the bone heals. During the healing process, the bone graft will knit with the vertebrae levels above and below to create one solid bone segment, known as a bone fusion.
How long will it take to recover?
It can take many months for a fusion to heal so it is important to be patient. Many patients experience only mild discomfort at the operative site after the surgery. It is important to follow your post-op instructions carefully to ensure the best possible recovery.
Many patients are able to return to light work duty as early as 6 weeks after surgery, depending on their pain levels. Moderate level work and light recreational sports as early as 3-4 months if the bone has healed and pain is reduced.
What are the risks?
As with most spinal surgeries there is a risk of bleeding, infection and reactions to anesthesia.
Risks associated with a lumbar corpectomy include:
- Bone fusion failure
- Hardware failure
- Injury to spinal cord or nerves
- Blood clots in legs
When should I call my doctor?
You should call us if you experience:
- A temperature of 101.1° or above.
- Increasing redness and swelling at the incision site.
- Chest pain or shortness of breath.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Changes in the amount, appearance, or odor of drainage from your incision.
- New or increased changes in sensation/presence of numbness in extremities.
- Severe pain that is not relieved by medication and rest.
- Problems with your walking or balance
- Questions or problems not covered by these instructions