What is Anterior Lumbar Corpectomy and Fusion?
Anterior Lumbar Corpectomy and Fusion is a surgical technique performed to remove the vertebral bone or disc material between the vertebrae to alleviate pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves (decompression) in the lumbar (lower back) region.
The term corpectomy originates from the Latin word ‘corpus’ which means ‘body’ and the word ‘ectomy’ means ‘removal’. Spinal fusion is essential for spinal stability after the removal of vertebral bone and disc material to relieve the compression over the neural structure.
Indications of Anterior Lumbar Corpectomy and Fusion
Anterior lumbar corpectomy and fusion is recommended when non-surgical treatment options fail to reduce the symptoms.
Nerve compression in the lower back usually leads to back pain, numbness or weakness extending into the hips, buttocks and legs.
Common causes of spinal nerve compression are:
- Degenerative spinal conditions such as herniated discs
- Spinal fractures
Before recommending surgery, the surgeon considers various factors such as age, condition to be treated, health, lifestyle, and the activity level of the patient.
For the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision in the side of the abdomen and retracts the soft tissues such as muscles to gain visibility of the spine. A portion of the vertebral body and intervertebral disc is removed to access the involved neural structure. The source of compression is removed and the compressed nerves released. During the fusion of two adjacent vertebrae, bone graft or bone graft substitute is inserted between the vertebrae at the decompression site to promote healing and to preserve the normal disc height. Implant material such as rods, plates and screws are fixed to the treated vertebra (e) to deliver additional support and stability during the fusion and healing process. After the procedure, the surgeon realigns the soft tissues and closes the incision.
- Following a Lumbar Corpectomy and Fusion, you may observe an immediate improvement of some or all symptoms or sometimes a gradual improvement of the symptoms.
- The duration of hospitalization depends on the treatment rendered. At the end of the first day of the surgery, you are allowed to move and walk around the hospital. Returning back to your daily life or to work depends on how well you are healing and the type of work or activity level.
- Follow your spinal surgeon’s instructions regarding the proper recovery program and instructions to augment the healing process for a successful recovery.
Risks or Complications of Anterior Lumbar Corpectomy and Fusion
The complications of the surgery include infection, nerve damage, blood clots or blood loss or bowel and bladder problems and any problem associated with anesthesia. The underlying risk of spinal fusion surgery is the failure of fusion of vertebral bone and bone graft which usually requires additional surgery.
Talk to your spine surgeon if you have any concerns or queries regarding Anterior Lumbar Corpectomy and Fusion.