What is a Foraminotomy?

Cervical Foraminotomy

Nerve roots can become impinged and compressed down the entire spine, although the most likely locations are the cervical spine (neck) and the lumbar spine (lower back). Bone spurs can develop in the spinal canal. Discs can herniate and push on the nerves. And in the neck, the foramen is often the problem area.

At DFC Center for Spinal Disorders, we may perform a cervical foraminotomy to remove this compression.

What is the Formamen?

The intervertebral foramen is a bony hollow archway in the back of the vertebrae. There are two on each vertebra. These openings are the path for the nerve roots to exit the spine. In the cervical spine, these nerves service the shoulders, arms, and hands. The foramen can become narrower. This can be due to degenerative disc disease, where the vertebral discs degenerate and begin to bulge outward or rupture, impinging on nearby nerve roots. Bone spurs can also develop in the foramen, compressing the nerve roots.

This pressure on the nerve roots leads to neck pain and pain that can radiate out into the arms and hands. There can be tingling or a pins and needles sensation in the arms and hands. This is called radiculopathy.

If not addressed, this nerve compression can lead to permanent nerve damage and impaired function of the hands and fingers.

How is a Cervical Posterior Foraminotomy Done?

For this procedure, the patient lies face down and is given general anesthesia. Your DFW Center for Spinal Disorders surgeon begins by creating a 1-2 inch incision vertically down the back of the neck above the area of compression. The muscles and other tissues are moved aside to gain access to the spine.

To increase the space for the nerve root as it travels through the foramen, your surgeon may remove a portion of the foramen, basically enlarging the opening. He also may remove a portion of the lamina, the portion of the vertebra that forms the rear of the spinal canal. If a herniated disc is pressing on the nerve, the nerve root is carefully lifted and the portion of the disc causing the compression is removed.

When the nerve root has ample space, the incision is closed and the procedure is complete.

If you have signs of cervical spinal stenosis, please call the team at DFW Center for Spinal Disorders at (817) 916-4685 to schedule an appointment.

Posted in: Neck Pain

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