Cervical Foraminotomy

Cervical foraminotomy is a procedure where a surgeon will remove pressure on a single nerve. This is a minimally invasive spinal procedure that can be performed through a 1 cm incision through the back of the neck. There is no metal or implants placed for this procedure. Dr. Zahir is able to perform this procedure either with an endoscope, or a small tubular retractor. This is the least invasive surgical option for the treatment of a pinched nerve in the neck.

Cervical foraminotomy is used to treat two types of conditions: cervical disc herniation (a condition where a disc herniation presses on a nerve in the neck) and cervical foraminal stenosis (a condition where a nerve is pinched from bone spurs or a narrowing of the foramen). The cervical foramen is the part of the spine where nerves leave the spine and enter the shoulders and arms. The foramen usually protects nerves and is like a channel. When the size of this channel decreases because of a disc herniation or a bone spur from arthritis, a cervical foraminotomy is sometimes necessary to create more space within the foramen. This procedure is a minimally invasive surgery where the range of motion in the neck is preserved.

shutterstock 290089598 showing the concept of Cervical Foraminotomy

When Is a Cervical Foraminotomy Necessary?

Herniated discs and bone spurs can cause the neural foramen to narrow resulting in numbness, tingling, weakness, stiffness, and neck pain. In certain cases, these symptoms can affect the shoulder, arm and hand. When non-surgical approaches such as physical therapy, medications, and injections are not able to provide relief, a cervical foraminotomy is a less invasive approach to removing pressure on the nerve.

What Should I Expect During This Procedure?

This is usually a same day procedure. Using a small tube or endoscope, Dr. Zahir will remove pressure on the nerve. Muscles are not cut, instead they are dilated during the approach. The advantage of this approach is typically less pain after surgery, less scarring, and less damage to the muscles, and ligaments in the spine.

What Should I Expect After The Procedure?

This is usually a same day surgery. In some cases, a patient may stay overnight if needed. Recovery process with a cervical foraminotomy is less than with other cervical spine surgeries because the incision is small, there is no metal placed in the neck (which is seen in fusions and disc replacements). You can return to normal activities as soon as you feel comfortable which is typically within a few weeks. Dr. Zahir will create a custom post-operative recovery plan based on your needs related to work or sports. 

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