Spine Conditions which can cause spinal nerve compression may be addressed through back surgery procedures such as a foraminotomy.  Some specific conditions which can be relieved through this procedures include:

  • Spondylolisthesis
  • spinal stenosis
  • osteophyte growth
  • facet joint disease
  • disc herniation

A foraminotomy operation is performed to increase the foraminal space and decompress the nerves.  Patients with symptoms such as radicular pain, weakness, numbness, paraesthesia, and tingling may benefit from a foraminotomy if more conservative treatments have failed to relieve the symptoms.

The success rate for foraminotomy is relatively high in terms of other types of back surgery, and the availability of minimally invasive surgical techniques, such as microlaminoforaminotomy, can reduce risks and improve the prognosis even further.  A posterior approach is usually taken, although an anterior cervical foraminotomy may be required in some cases of neck pain and symptomology.  During the procedure the foramina is widened by removing tissues such as abnormal bone growth, thickened ligaments, or even a portion of bone from the vertebrae themselves.  The foramina is the space through which nerve roots exit the spinal cord and it is possible that herniated disc material may also impinge upon these nerves making a partial or total discectomy a possible additional procedure occurring alongside a foraminotomy. Spinal fusion is not normally required after a foraminotomy however, as intervertebral height and stability is largely maintained with minimal amounts of structural material removed.

The usual risks of back surgery apply, although this less invasive procedure tends to have a shorter recovery time and a lower risk of complication in comparison to more wide-ranging back surgery.  Patients may require multiple level foraminotomy if there is evidence of compression at more than one vertebral level.  Those with radicular pain are the most likely to benefit from the procedure and some studies shows an 85-95% rate of significant pain relief after a foraminotomy (Jaggannathan, 2009).

Next Read About: Foraminotomy Preparation


A Foraminotomy helps open up the foramina freeing up compressed nerves