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Posterior Cervical Foraminotomy

Posterior cervical foraminotomy is a surgical procedure done to relieve symptoms which include pain, numbness and tingling, and weakness down the arms. It enlarges the opening where the nerves exit the spinal canal called the neural foramen.


Indications for a posterior cervical foraminotomy include pain, numbness, tingling, and weakness down one or both extremities in patients who have failed conservative measures. Typically, patients have multilevel degenerative disk disease and are not necessarily candidates for an anterior cervical discectomy and fusion as determined by their surgeon.


The procedure is done under general anesthesia with the patient on their stomach. An incision is made in the back of the neck and the spine is accessed. The level or levels which are causing the patient symptoms are identified, and precision instruments are used to remove the bone and bone spurs that are pressing on the nerves and effectively creating a wider opening for the nerves to travel.


Most common complaint after surgery is neck pain which can last several weeks. This can be managed adequately with pain medications and muscle relaxers. Most patients are in the hospital for two to three days. A soft collar is typically used. Most patients can return to work within two to six weeks after surgery depending on the physical nature of their job.


As with any surgery, there are inherent risks. Risks include risk of anesthesia, bleeding, infection, neurologic injury, blood clots, and weakness.

Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery