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Spine Surgery Guide


Foraminotomy Overview

Otomy is the medical term for making an opening. A foraminotomy makes the opening of the foramen larger and relieves nerve compression. These openings in between the vertebrae are called Neuroforamin. When this opening is reduced due to a spinal problem or injury, there is less room for the nerves to pass between the bones.


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Description:

Foraminotomy takes pressure off of a nerve in your spinal column and allows it to move more easily. It may be performed on any level of the spine. You will be asleep and feel no pain (general anesthesia).

  • You will lie face down on the operating table. A cut (incision) is made in the middle of the back of your spine. The length of the incision depends on how much of your spinal column will be operated on.
  • Skin, muscles, and ligaments are moved to the side. Your surgeon may use a surgical microscope to see inside your back.
  • Some bone is cut or shaved away to open the nerve root opening (foramen). Any disk fragments are removed. Other bone may also be removed at the back of the vertebrae to make more room.
  • If your surgeon is worried that your spine will not be stable after the bone has been removed, you may also need to have spinal fusion.
  • The muscles and other tissues are put back in place, and the skin is sewn together.

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Foraminotomy: Example

One example of a foraminotomy is a keyhole foraminotomy. This is a minimally invasive procedure in which an incision is made in the back of the neck, the muscle peeled away to reveal the bone underneath, and a small hole cut into the vertebra itself. Through this hole, the foramen can be visualized, and the impinging bone or disk material removed, causing the Spinal Stenosis.

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This information is not designed to replace a physician's independent judgment about the appropriateness or risks of a procedure for a given patient.
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