The Vertebral Body Depths of the Cervical Spine and Its Relation to Anterior Plate-Screw Fixation

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Study Design.

A study was performed to measure the vertebral body depths in different locations from C2 to C7.


To measure the vertebral body depths in 10 linear dimension from C2 to C7.

Summary of Background Data.

Anterior plate-screw fixation of the cervical spine has been the common surgical procedure for management of multilevel degenerative disc disease and fracture dislocation. However, injury to the spinal cord during drill or screw placement is the most feared complication of this procedure. It is beneficial for one to have a knowledge of the vertebral body depths in different locations of the vertebral body before anterior cervical plating.


Twenty-seven cervical spines from C2 to C7 were evaluated directly for this study. Anatomic evaluation of the vertebral body included the anteroposterior midline sagittal depth and the anteroposterior parasagittal depth 5 mm lateral to midline on the superior and inferior endplates, as well as on the middle body. Measurements also were made of anteroposterior parasagittal vertebral depth with both medial and lateral inclination of 10 degrees, with respect to the parasagittal plane of the vertebral body.


In general, the measurements of male specimens were larger than those of female specimens. Significant differences were noted at 21 measurements over C3 through C7. The mean depths of the superior endplate for all male and female specimens increased consistently from C3 to C7. The mean depths of the inferior endplate varied but generally increased from C2 to C6, then decreased to C7. The mean sagittal and parasagittal middle vertebral body depths were both 14 mm.


This information, in conjunction with preoperative computed tomographic evaluation, may be helpful in determining proper screw length during anterior plating of the cervical spine.

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