European Spine Journal

, Volume 16, Issue 8, pp 1267–1272 | Cite as

Anatomic mapping and evaluation of the esophagus in relation to the cervical vertebral body

  • Alfred L. Rhyne III
  • Leo R. Spector
  • Gary L. Schmidt
  • Luke Madigan
  • Susan M. Odum
  • Bruce V. Darden II
  • Faisal Siddiqui
Original Article

Abstract

The relationship of the esophagus to the cervical vertebral body (CVB), disc space and longus colli (LC) muscles, to our knowledge, has not been previously studied. The purpose of this study was to quantify the relationship of the esophagus to the CVB, disc space and LC. 30 patients were selected for a retrospective review of computed tomography (CT) scans. Measurements between the esophagus and the C5, C6, and C7 vertebral bodies as well as the C5/6 and C6/7 disc spaces were performed in the midline, 3 mm right and left of midline, and at the edge of the LC on both sides. The closest distance of the esophagus to the CVB and disc space occurs at the midline (range 1.02–1.31 mm at each level). The furthest distance occurred at the edge of the right LC (range 2.67–3.30 mm at each level). The mean distance from the edge of the right LC to the midline was significantly greater (P < 0.01) than mean distance from the edge of the left LC to the midline. No statistical significant differences were observed when comparing measurements at the individual vertebral bodies and disc spaces. The results of the study demonstrate that the esophagus lies in closest proximity to the CVB and disc space in the midline. A larger potential space exists between the esophagus and the CVB and disc space at the edge of the LC. These results may provide insight into a potential cause of post-operative dysphagia. Furthermore, it may help guide the future design of cervical plates to better utilize the potential space between the esophagus and the CVB and disc space at the edge of the LC.

Keywords

Cervical spine Esophagus Anatomy Cervical plate Cervical disc replacement Dysphagia 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfred L. Rhyne III
    • 1
  • Leo R. Spector
    • 1
  • Gary L. Schmidt
    • 1
  • Luke Madigan
    • 1
  • Susan M. Odum
    • 1
  • Bruce V. Darden II
    • 1
  • Faisal Siddiqui
    • 2
  1. 1.OrthoCarolina Spine CenterCharlotteUSA
  2. 2.Northern Virginia Orthopaedic SpecialistsManassasUSA

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