Cervical Foraminotomy Kapolei HI
Ewa Beach, HI
Medical School: Tufts Univ Sch Of Med, Boston Ma 02111
Graduation Year: 1981
Pearl City, HI
Ewa Beach, HI
General Surgery, Hand Surgery
Medical School: E Tn State Univ J H Quillen Coll Of Med, Johnson City Tn 37614
Graduation Year: 1994
Hospital: Freeman Hosp -West, Joplin, Mo; St Johns Reg Medctr, Joplin, Mo
Group Practice: Midwest Orthopaedic Surgery
Medical School: Univ Of Az Coll Of Med, Tucson Az 85724
Graduation Year: 1999
A Patient's Guide to Cervical Foraminotomy
Foraminotomy is a surgical procedure for widening the area where the spinal nerve roots exit the spinal column. A foramen is the opening around the nerve root, and otomy refers to the medical procedure for enlarging the opening. In this procedure, surgeons widen the passageway to relieve pressure where the spinal nerve is being squeezed in the foramen.
This guide will help you understand
What parts of the neck are affected?
The spine is made of a column of bones. Each bone, or vertebra, is formed by a round block of bone, called a vertebral body. The spinal canal is a hollow tube formed by the bony rings of all the vertebrae. The spinal canal surrounds and protects the spinal cord within the spine. There are seven vertebrae in the neck that form the area known as the cervical spine. The vertebrae are separated by intervertebral discs.
Traveling from the brain down through the spinal column, the spinal cord sends out nerve branches through openings on both sides of each vertebra. These openings are called the neural foramina. (The term used to describe a single opening is foramen.)
The intervertebral disc sits directly in front of the opening. A bulged or herniated disc can narrow the opening and put pressure on the nerve. A facet joint sits in back of the foramen. Bone spurs that form on the facet joint can project into the tunnel, narrowing the hole and pinching the nerve.
What do surgeons hope to achieve?
Foraminotomy alleviates the symptoms of foraminal stenosis. In foraminal stenosis, a nerve root is compressed inside the neural foramen. This compression is usually the result of degenerative (or wear and tear) changes in the spine.
View animation of disc collapse
Wear and tear from repeated stresses and strains on the neck can cause a spinal disc to begin to collapse. As the space between the vertebral bodies shrinks, the opening around the nerve root narrows. This squeezes the nerve. The nerve root is further squeezed in the foramen when the facet joint lining the outer edge of the foramen becomes inflamed and enlarged as a result of the same degenerative changes.
The degenerative process can also cause bone spurs to develop and point into the foramen, causing further irritation. In a foraminotomy, the surgeon removes the tissues around the edges of the foramen, essentially widening the opening in order to take pressure off the nerve root.
How will I prepare for surgery?
The decision to proceed with surgery must be made jointly by you and your surgeon. You should understand as much about the procedure as possible. If you have concerns or questions, you should talk to your surgeon.
Once you decide on surgery, you need to take several steps. Your surgeon may suggest a...