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Foraminotomy Surgery Procedure, Necessity & Preparation

Deuk Spine Web Team
An expert in all things spine, Dr. Deukmedjain is a board certified neurosurgeon who has performed thousands of minimally invasive surgeries and procedures including the revolutionary Deuk Laser Disc Repair and the Deuk Spinal Fusion. 

An operation called a foraminotomy is performed. It enlarges the region surrounding one of the spinal column’s bones. Compressed nerves are released from pressure following surgery.


If you or a loved one is experiencing any of the following symptoms outlined in this article, it’s time to get a FREE Consultation and MRI Review with Deuk Spine Institute. We will help relieve your pain and get you back to living your life without limitations!


Vertebrae, a series of bones that make up your spinal column, are what make it up. The flat part of each vertebra is supported by the intervertebral discs, which are located above and below it. Your spinal cord is housed in your spinal column, which also serves to shield it from harm. The spinal cord transmits bodily sensory data to the brain. Additionally, the spinal cord carries instructions from the brain to the body. From the spinal cord, nerves protrude, transmitting and receiving this data. They leave the spinal column through an opening between the vertebrae called the intervertebral foramen.

These apertures may occasionally get too narrow. As a result, the compressed nerve may exhibit signs including pain, tingling in the arms and legs, and weakness. The precise symptoms vary depending on where in the spinal column the compressed nerve is located. (For instance, a compressed nerve in the neck may cause tingling, weakness, and pain in the neck, as well as in the hand and arm.)

The surgeon will perform a foraminotomy during which they will make an incision on your neck or back to reveal the afflicted vertebra. After removing any obstructions, he or she can surgically enlarge your intervertebral foramen.

Why may a foraminotomy be necessary?

Spinal stenosis refers to obstructions that reduce the width of the spinal column or close an intervertebral foramen. The intervertebral foramen can get blocked by a number of processes, compressing the nerve exiting the spinal cord. The following conditions can result in spinal stenosis:

  • Spondylosis, a form of degenerative spine arthritis that can result in bony spurs
  • Intervertebral disc degeneration may result in their protrusion into the foramen due to
  • Increasing the size of the adjacent ligament
  • Spondylolisthesis
  • Tumors or cysts
  • Skeletal illness (like Paget disease)
  • Inherited issues (like dwarfism)

One of the most frequent causes of spine arthritis is degenerative arthritis brought on by aging. Any area of your spine can experience this nerve compression symptom of a compressed nerve including pain in the affected area as well as tingling and numbness in the affected limb. In the event that alternative treatments have been attempted and failed, a foraminotomy may be necessary. Physical therapy, analgesics, and epidural injections fall under this category.

To alleviate these symptoms, your surgeon can typically perform the operation as an elective procedure. If your symptoms are rapidly worsening or if you are experiencing bladder difficulties because of your nerve, you might need an emergency foraminotomy.

What dangers come with a foraminotomy?

Most foraminotomies are successful, however rarely problems can occur. Many of these are uncommon. Some potential issues include:

  • Infection
  • excessive blood loss
  • nerve injury
  • the spinal cord is harmed
  • Anesthesia-related complications in stroke

Additionally, there is a slight chance that the operation won’t relieve your discomfort.

Your individual risk of problems may change based on:

  • How old you are
  • Your intervertebral foramen’s location and structure
  • The kind of foraminotomy that was done
  • Your possible other health issues

Inquire with your physician about the hazards that concern you the most.

Why and How should I prepare for a foraminotomy?

How to prepare for your surgery should be discussed with your provider. Ask your doctor if you need to stop taking any medications in advance, such as blood thinners. The night before your procedure, you must abstain from eating and drinking after midnight. To learn more about your spinal column and nerves prior to surgery, your doctor may request additional imaging studies. An MRI is the most typical test in this situation.

What transpires throughout a foraminotomy?

To assist you to understand the specifics of your particular procedure, ask your doctor.

(The foraminotomy described here is minimally invasive. The incisions in a conventional foraminotomy are wider.) The procedure will be carried out by a neurosurgeon with the assistance of a group of skilled nurses and medical personnel. The entire procedure will take a few hours. You may typically anticipate the following:

  • You’ll spend the treatment lying on your stomach.
  • Anesthesia will be administered to you so that you can sleep through the procedure. During the operation, there won’t be any pain or discomfort for you.
  • Throughout the procedure, someone will keep a close eye on your vital indicators, including your blood pressure and heart rate.
  • On the side of your body where your symptoms are, your surgeon will make a small incision just next to your spine. The incision will be made at the level of the afflicted vertebra in your body.
  • X-rays and a specialized microscope will be used by your surgeon to direct the procedure.
  • Your surgeon will use specialized tools to force back muscles away from the spine in order to disclose the blocked intervertebral foramen.
  • To clear the intervertebral foramen blockage, your surgeon will utilize tiny instruments. A bulging disc or a bone spur could be the obstruction. The nerves will feel less strain as a result.
  • In some circumstances, your surgeon might perform a laminectomy or another treatment at this time. Part of the vertebra is removed in this way.
  • The crew will take out the equipment and reposition your back muscles. After that, someone will sew up the little skin incision.

What occurs following a foraminotomy?

What to anticipate after your foraminotomy can be discussed with your healthcare provider. You ought to be able to sit up in bed in a few hours. You might feel some discomfort, but you can get painkillers to make it go away. You ought to be able to maintain a typical diet.

Carefully moving the impacted area is required. If you need to stop making any particular movements for a while, you’ll be informed. (If your foraminotomy was in this area, you might need to avoid bending your neck.) If your surgery occurred on your neck, you’ll probably also require a soft neck collar.

A day or two following your surgery, you ought to be able to return home. Make sure you adhere to your doctor’s advice regarding medications, exercise, and wound care. It can be necessary to refrain from some actions for a period. Light labor may be possible after a few weeks, but you might need to refrain from heavy work for a few months. As they recuperate, some people might require physical therapy.

You can get a realistic picture of what to anticipate following surgery from your provider. Keep in mind to show up for all scheduled follow-ups. The majority of persons report noticeable improvements in their symptoms. Tell your doctor right away if you don’t feel better or if your symptoms change or get worse.


The Deuk Spine Institute encourages and welcomes you to contact us today regarding any questions or concerns you may have regarding your current situation. 

​​If you or someone you love is experiencing any of the preceding symptoms outlined, it is imperative to get a FREE Consultation and MRI Review with the Deuk Spine Institute.


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