Cervical Foraminotomy Somerville MA

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Brian J Awbrey MD
(617) 726-3808
151 Merrimac St
Boston, MA
Specialties
Orthopedics

Data Provided By:
Anne Holland Johnson
(917) 538-4656
330 Mount Auburn St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Foot & Ankle Surgery

Data Provided By:
James A Karlson, MD
(617) 738-8642
300 Mount Auburn St Ste 505
Cambridge, MA
Specialties
Orthopedics
Gender
Male
Education
Medical School: Brown Univ Program In Med, Providence Ri 02912
Graduation Year: 1988

Data Provided By:
Gerald Gary Steinberg, MD
(508) 856-2336
1493 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA
Specialties
Orthopedics
Gender
Male
Education
Medical School: A Einstein Coll Of Med Of Yeshiva Univ, Bronx Ny 10461
Graduation Year: 1969

Data Provided By:
Robert Ernst Miegel, MD
(617) 491-6766
300 Mount Auburn St Ste 505
Cambridge, MA
Specialties
Orthopedics
Gender
Male
Education
Medical School: Suny At Buffalo Sch Of Med & Biomedical Sci, Buffalo Ny 14214
Graduation Year: 1977

Data Provided By:
Lawrence Ira Karlin, MD
(617) 355-6021
300 Longwood Ave
Boston, MA
Business
Children's Hospital Boston Orthopaedic Surger
Specialties
Orthopedics

Data Provided By:
Gerald Steinberg
(617) 665-1566
1493 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Orthopedic Surgery

Data Provided By:
Mercedes D Von Deck
(617) 665-1566
1493 Cambridge St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Orthopedic Surgery

Data Provided By:
James Edward Phillips
(617) 491-6766
300 Mount Auburn St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Orthopedic Surgery

Data Provided By:
Elliott L Thrasher
(617) 491-6766
300 Mount Auburn St
Cambridge, MA
Specialty
Orthopedic Surgery

Data Provided By:
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Cervical Foraminotomy

A Patient's Guide to Cervical Foraminotomy

Introduction

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

  • why the procedure becomes necessary
  • what surgeons hope to achieve
  • what to expect as you recover

Anatomy

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.

Rationale

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.

Preparations

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...

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