Foraminotomy is a surgical procedure that is performed to enlarge the area around one of the bones in the spinal column to relieve pressure on compressed nerves.
Nerves exit the spinal cord through passages known as the neuroforamina. The neuroforamina can become narrowed due to injury or aging, thereby putting pressure on the nerve and causing pain. A foraminotomy enlarges a neuroforamen by removing the material that is causing the constriction to relieve pressure.
Depending on the severity of the symptoms and the location of the compressed nerve, a foraminotomy can be combined with other procedures that involve partial or complete removal of the lamina. The lamina is the bony structure which exists in pairs on each set of two vertebrae and its work is to protect the back of the spinal cord.
Your surgeon my recommend the following as part of the foraminotomy:
- Laminotomy: This involves removing a small portion of lamina and ligaments, typically on one side. This method ensures that the natural support of the lamina is left in place thereby minimizing the chance of the patient having a postoperative spinal instability.
Conditions Treated with Foraminotomy
Foraminotomy is used to treat spinal stenosis which is a condition that can occur at any part of the back or neck. Spinal stenosis can occur when the neuroforaminal passages are narrowed due to blockage or constriction.
Conditions that can cause spinal stenosis include:
- Spondylosis which is degenerative arthritis of the spine and it can cause bony spurs
- Degeneration of the intervertebral discs. This can cause the discs to bulge into the foramen
- Enlargement of the nearby ligament
- Cysts and tumours
- Congenital problems like dwarfism
- Skeletal disease like Paget disease
A foraminotomy procedure, also known as decompression surgery, involves creating more space in the spinal canal so as to relieve pressure.
During the procedure, an incision is made in the middle of the back of the spine. The length of the incision usually depends on how much of your spinal column will be operated on. The surgeon carefully moves the skin, muscles and ligaments to the side in order to access the spinal column. He/she will then shave or cut some bone in order to open the foramen (nerve root opening) and remove any disc fragments.
Another bone may also be removed at the back of the vertebrae in order to make more room (laminotomy). A spinal fusion may also be performed to make sure that the spinal column is stable after surgery. The muscles and tissues are then put back in place and the skin is sewn together.
Following the surgery, the patient will likely wear a soft neck collar. Most individuals are usually able to get out of bed and sit up within 2 hours. It is important to be extra careful when moving the neck. You should be able to go home a day following the surgery and it is important to follow all instructions given by your spine surgeon for a swift recovery and to avoid any setbacks.
Results may vary from one individual to the next.
At King’s College Hospital Dubai, we focus on offering an exemplary service, from initial consultation through to final diagnosis and treatment and beyond. Our multidisciplinary team of expert doctors, nurses, physio therapists are here to offer tailored management and treatment of your condition, and to answer any questions that you might have throughout your time with us. Whatever you need us for, we’re only a phone-call away.
Dr Nicandro Figueiredo is considered the best Spinal Surgeon in Dubai.
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