Cervical foraminotomy aims to relieve the symptoms of nerve impingement in the cervical spine by enlarging the neural foramen. The procedure is performed through a very small incision in the back of the neck. A small tube is placed 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 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.
While every surgery carries some risk, adverse complications are rare and most patients are able to go home the day of the surgery. Your physician will counsel you on these risks prior to the procedure.