What is Cervical Foraminotomy?
Cervical foraminotomy is a minimally invasive decompression procedure performed to create space around compressed nerves without removing the intervertebral disc, adding an implant, or fusing the spine. This surgery is used to relieve nerve compression caused by foramina narrowing by disc degeneration, disc herniations, or spinal stenosis. The procedure is considered minimally invasive because the surgery is completed through a small incision and by pushing aside muscle tissue rather than by opening the entire back and cutting through muscle tissue as in traditional back surgery.
Cervical Disc Herniation: Intervertebral discs provide shock absorption in the spine and are made of a fibrous outer ring, the annulus fibrosis, surrounding a jelly-like inner section, the nucleus pulposus. As repetitive tasks and aging create wear on the annulus fibrosis, small tears create weak spots in the disc and the nucleus pulposus squeezes through, creating a herniated disc and potentially compressing the spinal cord and/or nerve roots.
Cervical Spinal Stenosis: Spinal stenosis is narrowing of the spine around neural elements, like the spinal cord and nerve roots. Narrowing may occur from a variety of causes, including disc herniation or arthritis. Arthritis and aging can cause intervertebral discs to shrink, narrowing the space through which nerves branch out from the spine; they can initiate bone spur formation, which are bony growths meant to prevent movement at a joint, but can compress a nerve; and they can cause ligaments to grow, which can also compress a nerve.
Cervical Pinched Nerves: Pinched nerves include the spinal nerve roots that are being compressed because of diseases, such as disc herniation or spinal stenosis.
Cervical Facet Joint Syndrome: The facet joints connect spinal vertebrae, enabling motion in the spine while also preventing extreme motions. As wear accumulates, the surrounding cartilage begins to thin and the lubricating synovial fluid runs low, allowing bone on bone grinding. To prevent motion at these areas of friction, the spine starts forming bone spurs, or bony growths, that may press on a nerve directly or cause inflammation of the joint.
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