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What is Keyhole Foraminotomy?

Foraminotomy is a surgical procedure performed to relieve the symptoms of a pinched or compressed spinal nerve by enlarging the neural foramen, an opening for the nerve roots to exit the spine and travel through the body. The neural foramen forms a protective passageway for nerves that transmit signals among the spinal cord and the rest of the body parts.

Foraminotomy can also be performed through a minimally invasive approach using a keyhole incision. It does not require cutting and stripping of the muscles from the spine region, unlike the conventional open spine surgery, which requires spine muscles to be cut or stripped.

Indications for Keyhole Foraminotomy

Conditions such as herniated discs, bone spurs, and thickened ligaments or joints can narrow the neural foramen and pinch the spinal nerves. A pinched or compressed nerve in the neck region can cause neck pain, stiffness and/or pain, tingling sensation, numbness or weakness that radiates down the arm and hand. If you fail to show improvement with non-surgical therapy, your doctor may suggest cervical foraminotomy.

Keyhole Foraminotomy Procedure

Keyhole foraminotomy is performed with you lying on your stomach. Your surgeon makes a small incision on the symptomatic side of your neck and approaches the spine by bringing the neck muscles apart using a retractor. A special microscope is used to guide surgery. The bone or disc material and/or the thickened ligaments are removed, relieving the pressure on spinal nerve structures. The neck muscles are brought back into their original position by removing the retractor. After the procedure, your surgeon closes the incision using sutures.

After Keyhole Foraminotomy

Since cervical foraminotomy is minimally invasive, you will usually be discharged on the day of surgery itself, but in some cases, you may need a longer hospital stay. After surgery, the pain symptoms may improve immediately or gradually over the course of time. Compliance with your surgeon’s postoperative instructions may give better results. You will be able to resume your daily activities within a few weeks.

Your physician recommends surgery based on your condition and symptoms. Before scheduling the surgery, discuss the benefits, risks, and complications of the surgical procedure with your surgeon.

  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • North American Spine Society
  • Cobb County Medical Society
  • Georgia Orthopaedic Society
  • Piedmont Clinic