Cervical Foraminotomy


Cervical nerve roots compression is caused by herniated discs and bone spurs. Traditional symptoms include neck pain, shoulder pain, pins and needles, numbness, tingling, or weakness in the arms and hands. Conservative treatment can include light traction, anti-inflammatory medication, contrasteriods, and nerve root injections.


If conservative therapy fails, a cervical foraminotomy is performed to enlarge the space where a spinal nerve root exits the cervical spinal canal.

During the operation, the muscles are dissected and a retractor is placed. (Sometimes an endoscope and tubular retractor or microscope are used). Bone from the posterior arch of the spine and joint over the nerve are removed using special cutting instruments and/or a drill. Thickened ligament, bone spurs and bulging discs are removed to decompress the exiting nerve, which is checked with a probe to insure adequate space around the nerve root.


In most cases patients stay in the hospital for 24 hours, and generally do not need a cervical collar. Most patients will notice immediate improvement of their symptoms, however some symptoms may improve gradually. A positive attitude, reasonable expectations contribute to a satisfactory outcome. Most patients discontinue pain medication and resume their regular activities within a few weeks.

Related links:
Spinal Anatomy
Cervical Anatomy
Cervical Cases performed by Dr. Pashman
Neck FAQ’s