Cervical Foraminotomy

 

Procedure

Removal of a small portion of bone from the back of the spine, which overlies the exiting nerve root. It can be done as a minimal invasive procedure.

Indication

Decompression of a nerve root for cervical radiculopathy. It can easily be done at several  levels at the same time.

Risks           

Bleeding, infection, cerebrospinal fluid leak, neurological deficit including paralysis, no improvement of symptoms, worsening neck pain. Overall, the risks, in particular the serious risks are very small.

Hospital stay       

24hours after operation in majority of cases

Anaesthesia         

Always general anaesthesia

Recovery   

The neck will feel sore for a few weeks but unless there are complications, recovery is usually quick. A collar is unnecessary.

Commonly asked questions

When to decompress a nerve from the front (anterior cervical discectomy) or from the back?
In principle, it can be done from either side. In most cases, the pressure on the nerve comes from a slipped disc, which lies in front of the nerve. Therefore it is easier to remove the disc from the front. Although the disc can be removed from the back, too, most surgeons do not remove the disc this way but create some more space around the nerve to reduce the pressure. If the nerve pressure is due to wear and tear from one of the small joints in the spine (facet joints), then it is better to address this from the back.

Professional singers might prefer the operation from the back as it has no risk to the voice unlike an anterior cervical discectomy.