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What is a Foramenotomy?

A foramenotomy, or foraminotomy, is a spinal surgery procedure which is often performed for foraminal stenosis. Foraminal stenosis is a narrowing of a foramen, the hole that spinal nerves pass through as they exit the spine. It generally occurs as a part of degenerative spine disease. This narrowing can lead to neurological symptoms as the nerve gets pinched, often causing numbness, tingling, pain and/or muscle weakness in the distribution of that nerve.

Foraminotomy aims to improve the symptoms from foraminal stenosis by relieving the compression on the nerve. Basically, the bone and soft tissue overlying the foramen and causing compression is removed. This opens the foramen so that the nerve within has more room.

This procedure can be performed both for cervical (neck) and lumbar (lower back) foraminal stenosis. While foraminotomy is sometimes done alone, it can often be a part of a larger spine procedure which addresses several problems, such as herniated disc or spinal stenosis. It can be done as a part of an open surgical procedure or through a small incision and what is considered minimally invasive spinal surgery.

How is a foramenotomy performed?

This is a minimally invasive procedure beginning with IV sedation and a local anesthetic. Then, a small incision is made at the back of the neck and a hole is cut in the vertebrae itself. A series of tubes are used to get to the spine in order to prevent damage to the surrounding muscles. Using an arthroscope, the foramen can be seen and the material causing the pressure can be removed.

Some patients will feel immediate relief once the irritating material has been removed. The procedure is completed with a stitch or two upon the incision site.

Endoscopic Foraminotomy is a minimally invasive procedure with a quick recovery time. Patients are up and back to normal activities in no time.






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Patient Resources

Anatomy of The Lower Back  -  Misdiagnosing Low Back Pain  -  Functions of The Low Back  -  Before Your Surgery  -  After Spine Surgery

Spine Surgery Questions  -  Anatomy of The Spine  -  Back Pain Definitions  -  Obesity and back pain  -  Orthopedic Surgeons  -  Spine Surgeons

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