Anterior cervical approach for the treatment of axial or high thoracic levels

Ran Harel*, Maya Nulman, Zvi R. Cohen, Nachshon Knoller

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: Application of the anterior sub-axial cervical approach to the axial spine or the high thoracic spine has been previously described. Evaluation methods to determine the feasibility of these approaches were also described but alternative method was utilized in the current study. We describe our experience expanding the boundaries of anterior cervical approach utilizing a novel algorithm for approach selection. Materials and methods: A retrospective analysis of patients’ files and imaging data of all anterior cervical approach to treat pathologies above C2–3 disc space or below C7–D1 disc space. The decision to proceed with standard approach was based on CT or MRI scans and the pre-operative cervical range of motion. Post-operative course and surgical complications will be discussed. Results: During a two year period 13 patients had undergone anterior cervical approach to the axial spine (3 patients) or the thoracic spine (10 patients). Ten patients were treated for tumour resection, one for trauma, one for myelopathy and the last for infective osteomyelitis with epidural abscess. Three patients were previously operated in another hospital via the posterior approach with remaining compressive mass necessitating anterior decompression. Complications were recorded in 30% of the patients. Conclusions: Approach to the axial or the high thoracic spine is more challenging and harbors approach-related complication. Pre-operative evaluation of patients imaging allows harnessing the standard approach for treatment of extreme levels with relative safety and efficiency. Spine surgeons’ awareness to this technique may increase surgical efficacy while reducing the complication rates.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)599-603
Number of pages5
JournalBritish Journal of Neurosurgery
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2 Nov 2018


  • Anterior cervical approach
  • axial spine
  • spine infections
  • spine tumours
  • thoracic spine


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