A vertebrectomy is a surgical procedure to remove all of the vertebral body from the spinal column which can be done to relieve pressure on the spinal cord. The vertebral body is a segment of bone that makes up the front of the vertebrae. A vertebrectomy can be done for a number of different reasons including spinal stenosis, a fracture (especially if the vertebral body shatters), tumour or infection although there can be other reasons as well.

The spine consists of 33 bones that are known as vertebrae. Between the bones there are discs which absorb shock in the spinal column (the length of the spine). As we get older or suffer a trauma these discs can begin to wear out and can put pressure on the nerves and spinal cord, leading to pain.

The surgery will be performed while you are under a general anaesthetic; this means that you will not be conscious while the surgery is happening. During a vertebrectomy, the neurosurgeon, with the use of imaging, removes the affected vertebral body and the disc above and below (more than one disc may be removed depending on the severity of the condition). Once this has been completed, the empty space must be filled. This can either be a spinal fusion done with bone from another part of the body or a tall cage and metal plate to support the rest of the vertebral column (spine).

When going through any surgery there are risks that you must know about before you go ahead with the surgery. Here are some of the risks associated with a cervical vertebrectomy:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Damage to the spinal cord
  • Nerve root damage
  • Failed surgery
  • Damage to the surrounding areas
  • Continued pain

Your surgeon will go over all the different surgical options and risks associated with them before your surgery. During the surgery, they will use the latest technology to ensure that the risk of complication is as low as possible. If you or your family have any questions, you can always ask them!

Once the surgery has been completed you will begin the healing process; some say this is the hardest part. It is important that you follow the recovery instructions to ensure that you get the best outcome from the surgery and do not do any damage to yourself.

Once the vertebrectomy is complete you will be taken to a ward to recover from the anaesthetic. You may need to stay in hospital for 2-3 nights. It is important that when you return home you follow the information that you are given before you are discharged to prevent any damage occurring and aid a speedy recovery.

At LNP we can perform vertebrectomy at hospitals in and around London. If you would like to speak to a member of our team about treatment or diagnosis, please call us on 0207 034 8709 or email us on info@londonneurosurgerypartnership.co.uk

This article is intended to inform and give insight but not treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a doctor. Always seek medical advice with any questions regarding a medical condition.