Last revised by Henry Knipe on 12 Jul 2021

Corpectomy refers to the removal of one or more vertebral bodies and is followed by spinal fusion

Corpectomies can be performed in the cervical spine as well as the thoracolumbar spine with a number of surgical approaches including anterior/lateral, posterior and circumferential 4,5.

An anterior or posterior approach may be utilized, an anterior approach is more common 4. Discectomies are performed above and below the level/s for corpectomy. The width of the corpectomy depends on the degree of decompression needed by uncinate-to-uncinate is typically performed 4

Once the vertebral body is resected a spinal fusion must be carried out, and a number of alternatives exist depending on location, etiology of underlying pathology, surgeon preference and prognosis. 

A bone graft is often used to fill the space and eventually lead to complete osseous fusion 1. An autograft from the patient's pelvic bones (most commonly, the iliac wing) or lower limb bones (most commonly, the fibula) can be used. Alternatively, a mechanical construct +/- bone graft can be inserted (e.g. titanium cage, PEEK-cage) or expandable device 1-3. Following this additional instrumentation is required to fully stabilize the segment. Less commonly, bilateral stabilizing decompression rods are applied, without filling the post-corpectomy gap ref.

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Cases and figures

  • Case 1: x-ray lateral
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  • Case 2: treating metastatic vertebral body collapse
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