Cervical Spine Foraminotomy Surgery
A cervical foraminotomy is a surgical procedure designed to relieve pressure on the spinal nerves. There are two methods for this decompressive operation: Anterior cervical foraminotomy (ACF) or Posterior cervical foraminotomy (PCF). Both techniques have similar clinical outcomes for alleviating painful nerve compression.
Who is a good candidate for cervical foraminotomy?
Nerve root compression in the cervical spine is a common symptom of foraminal stenosis. This spine condition is characterized by narrowing of the foramen — a passageway for spinal nerve roots. Individuals with radiculopathy (pinched nerves) will often suffer from pain in the neck and shoulder as well as weakness and tingling in the arms and hands. The procedure enlarges the foramen and removes intruding tissue, freeing the affected nerve from impingement.
Spin surgery is generally recommended when conservative measures have failed, and functional impairment continues to worsen. Good candidates for a cervical spine foraminotomy are those who have found no relief with non-surgical options such as physical therapy, acupuncture, nerve sheath injections, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.
Patients who have been diagnosed with foraminal stenosis, cervical spondylosis, disc prolapse, or other ailments that place pressure on spinal nerve roots should discuss surgical options with Dr. Barnett.
Benefits of the surgery
A cervical foraminotomy is a minimally invasive cervical spine procedure that has numerous benefits for qualified patients. A successful surgery will:
- Relieve pressure on affected nerves
- Alleviate pain and weakness
- Preserve function and mobility
- Prevent further deterioration
New techniques allow for less blood loss, faster recoveries, and a quicker return to daily life.
Both an anterior and posterior cervical foraminotomy are performed under general anesthesia. The technique utilized will depend on the patient’s anatomy, overall health, and underlying diagnosis. After the incision is made in the front or back of the neck, a tubular retractor is used to allow access to the affected area.
An operating microscope and special instruments are used to remove bone spurs, herniated disc fragments, and other tissues that are putting pressure on the nerve root. All blockages are removed, and the foramen is widened. The incision is then closed with dissolvable sutures below the skin surface to allow for minimal scarring.
Recovery and post-operative care
Cervical spine foraminotomy is an outpatient procedure. Post-operative instructions are provided by the surgeon to help facilitate the recovery process. Strenuous activity and excessive movement of the neck should be avoided for the first month.
After six weeks, most patients are back to their normal daily routines. Strenuous sports activities can be resumed after two to three months. Most patients are fully recovered three months following foraminotomy surgery.
The majority of patients have a significant improvement of radicular arm pain after the healing is complete and are able to enjoy their favorite recreational activities.
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From start to finish, Dr. Barnett and his staff were always informative and professional. Dr. Barnett performed my neck surgery and lower back surgery all during a pandemic and everything worked out perfect. Highly recommend Dr. Barnett. Top notch.
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