Foraminotomy is a procedure in which the right or left canal between the vertebrae where the spinal nerves exit is expanded. For individuals suffering from foraminal stenosis, this canal becomes narrowed, creating pressure on the spinal nerve root, which causes lower or upper body pain and stiffness to occur. Foraminotomy is performed in the cervical or lumbar regions to increase the circumference of the canal and relieve the pressure. Foraminotomy is often an invasive surgery; however, some physicians are now using a minimally invasive approach. People undergoing the invasive technique can expect a hospital stay of up to two days, while those having the minimally invasive procedure may be released a few hours after surgery.
Foraminotomy is an option for those suffering from foraminal stenosis which has not improved with conservative treatment. Foraminotomy is often combined with a discectomy, laminotomy, or laminectomy when the surgeon needs to free up a greater area of the nerve that is being compressed.
Surgery begins with the individual lying face down on a surgical table, receiving a general anesthetic to help them go to sleep. The surgeon creates a cut in the middle of the neck or back; skin, ligaments, and muscle may be sliced or simply pulled to the side with surgical tools to reach the spinal column. Next, the surgeon uses a second of tools to remove disc fragments, bone spurs, thickened ligaments, or any other material causing compression of nerve tissue. The surgeon may also need to cut away or shave other areas of bone that are constricting the nerves. Once this process is complete, muscle, ligament, and skin are returned to their original location, and the incision is closed.
After surgery, it is normal to have pain around the incision, but this will dissipate as the wound heals. Individuals can often resume normal activities after a few weeks of recovery. Foraminotomy has been shown to give full or partial relief of the symptoms caused by foraminal stenosis.
If you have foraminal stenosis and would like to find out about treatment choices that we provide, please call us at our New Braunfels or Seguin offices.