Fig. (3) The anterior cervical approach to the spine (cross-sectional view): note the potential space created by dissection in the plane between the carotid sheath and the midline viscera. The carotid sheath structures are retracted laterally, and the esophagus and trachea are retracted medially to expose the ventral surface of the spine. Adapted with permission from: Albert T, Balderston R, Northrup B. Surgical Approaches to the Spine. Philadelphia: WB Saunders 1997; p. 10 [5].