Minimally-invasive posterior cervical foraminotomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure in which a small piece of bone and/or soft tissue is removed in the cervical spine to relieve the symptoms of a pinched nerve by enlarging the neural foramen (the opening between the vertebrae through which spinal nerve roots travel).
Traditional, open spine surgery involves cutting or stripping the muscles from the spine. Today, a cervical foraminotomy can be performed using a minimally invasive procedure that allows your spine surgeon to separate the fibers of the muscles surrounding the spine rather than cutting and stripping the muscles away from the spine. Cervical foraminotomies are performed to treat focal disc herniations that are compressing spinal nerve roots in the neck (cervical spine). Compression of cervical spinal nerve roots can cause pain, numbness, tingling or weakness in the arms. Typically the symptoms are in a specific pattern in the arm that correlate with a particular nerve.
How is cervical foraminotomy performed?
The cervical foraminotomy is performed through a very small incision in the back of the neck. A small tube is placed in between the muscle fibers to preserve muscles, tendons and ligaments. Through the small tube, the surgeon will remove a portion of the vertebra called the lamina, which is adjacent to your spinal cord and forms part of the wall of your spinal canal. Next, specialized instruments and microscopes are used to remove a small piece of the lamina in order to gain access to the compressed foramen and the intruding spinal disc material. With guidance from a surgical microscope and live X-rays displayed on a monitor, the surgeon will then use specialized tools to scrape out the bone spurs in the foramen and remove the damaged sections of the disc that are compressing the nerve.
How long is recovery?
This minimally invasive foraminotomy is typically performed on an outpatient basis. As with all minimally invasive procedures, the foraminotomy is less likely to cause extensive scarring or require an extended recovery than traditional open back surgery. Many patients will notice immediate improvement of some or all of their symptoms; however, other symptoms may improve more gradually. To give the body proper time to heal, some activities will be limited for a period of time following the procedure.
Why North American Spine?
Our partnered physicians are specialized and highly experienced in minimally invasive techniques, so patients experience a quicker recovery time, better surgical outcome, and reduced post-operative risks in comparison to open spine surgeries. Also, remember that your Patient Care Manager is here to guide you the whole way—our goal is to make sure you feel informed, cared for, and comfortable throughout every step of your care.