The spine comprises vertebrae, nerves, intervertebral discs, and the spinal cord. The spinal nerves radiate out from the spinal cord through a small hole (intervertebral foramen) between the vertebrae, sending sensory information from all parts of the body to the brain. In some individuals, this small hole is narrowed, causing the spinal nerve to be compressed and resulting in symptoms such as pain, muscle weakness, and tingling in the arms and legs. This condition is known as a foraminal stenosis.
A foraminotomy is an open-back surgery that increases the space of the intervertebral foramen, easing the pressure on the spinal nerves, and alleviating symptoms.
A foraminotomy is executed in several stages. Below is an outline of how a foraminotomy procedure is performed:
Many patients with foraminal stenosis experience symptoms of nerve compression, such as sciatic pain (thigh, lower back, shoulder, arms or hands), numbness, tingling, and muscle weakness in different body parts. Apart from foraminal stenosis, other conditions that may require a foraminotomy include:
The post-operation recovery after a foraminotomy varies depending on the individual and the extent of the surgery.
Most patients spend 1-2 nights in the hospital after foraminotomy to ensure they recover well after the surgery. Antibiotics will also be prescribed to prevent infections.
Pain after surgery is normal and can be managed with pain medications prescribed by your neurosurgeon. Avoid non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), as they can increase the risk of bleeding. Avoid lifting or carrying anything over 3 kg for at least six weeks after surgery.
You may also be required to undergo physical therapy to aid in your recovery. You will be requested to visit our clinic within a week or two for a follow-up. You will also be asked to visit us for a routine check-up to monitor your general well-being.
Most patients require 4-6 weeks to recover from a foraminotomy. Following your neurosurgeon's instructions before and after surgery is vital to ensure a smooth recovery and minimise the risk of complications.
For most individuals, only one foraminotomy is necessary. However, you may need another foraminotomy if you develop another foraminal stenosis or other spinal conditions.
A foraminotomy can be performed on any spine level and is successful in most people, but complications can occasionally happen. Here are some of the risks:
-- Infection in the wound or vertebral bones
-- Too much blood loss
-- Nerve damage
-- Damage to the spinal cord
-- Complications from anaesthesia
-- Symptoms may not improve or may worsen after surgery
-- Revision surgery may be necessary
Yes, a foraminotomy is a major open-back surgery.
A foraminotomy involves the removal of bone spurs or growths that cause a narrowing of the intervertebral foramen, easing pressure on the spinal nerves. A laminectomy involves the removal of the lamina (back of the vertebral) to alleviate pressure on the spinal nerves.