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Cervical Corpectomy Nerve Decompression

What is a Cervical Corpectomy? 

A cervical corpectomy is a surgery performed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord from a bone spur, herniated disk, or other condition causing stenosis. The procedure replaces one or more damaged vertebrae with a bone graft, which stimulates new bone growth and leads to the fusion of the remaining adjacent vertebrae. The procedure helps decompress the nerve roots, stabilize the spine, and relieve pain.

What You Can Expect at UTHealth Neurosciences

The UTHealth Neurosciences Spine Center brings together a multidisciplinary team of board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeons, neurologists, researchers, and pain management specialists who work together to help provide relief for even the most complex problems. People who suffer from radiculopathy, spondylosis, spinal stenosis, herniated disc, degenerative disc disease, peripheral nerve disorders, spinal cord injury, or other trauma benefit from our collaborative expertise in managing spine disorders.

Our multidisciplinary teams of specialists share insights, leading to better treatment decisions and outcomes. We first investigate nonsurgical treatment options, including medical management, pain management, physical routinely therapy, rehabilitation, and watchful waiting. When surgery is needed, our neurosurgeons employ innovative minimally invasive techniques. Throughout the treatment process, we will work closely with the doctor who referred you to ensure a smooth transition back to your regular care. While you are with us, you will receive expert care, excellent communication, and genuine compassion.

Anatomy of the neck and spine

The spine is divided into the following regions:

  • The cervical region (vertebrae C1-C7) encompasses the first seven vertebrae under the skull. Their main function is to support the weight of the head, which averages 10 pounds. The cervical vertebrae are more mobile than other areas, with the atlas and axis vertebra facilitating a wide range of motion in the neck. Openings in these vertebrae allow arteries to carry blood to the brain and permit the spinal cord to pass through. They are the thinnest and most delicate vertebrae.
  • The thoracic region (vertebrae T1-T12) is composed of 12 small bones in the upper chest. Thoracic vertebrae are the only ones that support the ribs. Muscle tension from poor posture, arthritis, and osteoporosis are common sources of pain in this region.
  • The lumbar region (vertebrae L1-L5) features vertebrae that are much larger to absorb the stress of lifting and carrying heavy objects. Injuries to the lumbar region can result in some loss of function in the hips, legs, and bladder control.
  • The sacral region (vertebrae S1-S5) includes a large bone at the bottom of the spine. The sacrum is triangular-shaped and consists of five fused bones that protect the pelvic organs.

Reasons for a Cervical Corpectomy

Most neck pain does not require surgery. Degenerative changes in the cervical region of the spine can lead to excessive pressure on the spinal cord. Cervical compression can cause pain, weakness, numbness, and difficulty walking. Some patients may also experience progressive bowel and bladder dysfunction. A cervical corpectomy is preformed to relieve pressure on the spinal cord caused by bone spurs and to stop abnormal movement between vertebrae.

What to expect during surgery and recovery

The surgery, which is extensive, is recommended only for patients with spinal cord problems that cannot be resolved by cervical discectomy, such as those with severe pain, muscle weakness, and difficulty moving. While the patient is under general anesthesia, the surgeon makes an incision in the front of the neck to reach the cervical spine and removes the disks above and below the vertebral body. A bone graft with plates and screws is used to stabilize the spine before the incision is closed. The length of a patient’s hospital stay will depend on how extensive the surgery is.

To improve stability during healing, the surgeon may place a collar for approximately two to six weeks. Outpatient physical therapy may be recommended to improve function and control of the neck muscles.  It typically takes six months to a year for the fusion to be complete.

Your surgeon will give you specific information related to your condition and lifestyle goals, as well as a detailed description of the surgery and instructions on how to make the best recovery.

Spine Disease and Back Pain


Contact Us

At UTHealth Neurosciences, we offer patients access to specialized neurological care at clinics across the greater Houston area. To ask us a question, schedule an appointment, or learn more about us, please call (713) 486-8100, or click below to send us a message. In the event of an emergency, call 911 or go to the nearest Emergency Room.


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