A foraminotomy is the minimally invasive procedure used to relieve pressure on nerves that are being compressed within the intervertebral foramen, the space in the vertebra where a nerve root exits the spinal canal. Impingement of the nerve may be caused by bone, disc, scar tissue, or excessive ligament development.
During the outpatient surgery, the surgeon places the first tube into a small incision. A series of tubes of increasing size are placed over this first tube to slowly create a small opening to the spine. This allows foraminotomies to be performed with minimal damage to the surrounding muscles. The muscles are pushed out of the way and are not torn or cut. The last tube is about 18 millimeters in diameter and through this working tube we insert the laser, camera, suction, irrigation and other surgical instruments.
Once everything is in place, the surgeon can begin removing the bone and tissue that is compressing the nerve without distress to the patient. Some feel immediate relief during surgery as the nerve is released. Once the procedure is complete, the tube is removed, allowing the muscles to move back into place. A stitch or two is needed to close the incision.
After one to two hours of monitoring, the patient (with a Care Partner) is free to go. We generally encourage patients to take several short walks the afternoon or evening of their foraminotomy procedure. The patient then returns following a day of rest and recovery for a postoperative visit to get clearance from the physician to return home.
Laser Spine Institute is committed to helping as many patients as possible through our minimally invasive procedures. In addition to the foraminotomy, we offer procedures such as the facet thermal ablation, Decompression with Interlaminar Stabilization™ Device, discectomy, cervical disc replacement, laminotomy, anterior cervical discectomy fusion (ACDF), RegenaDISC®, and lateral lumbar interbody fusion (LLIF).