Surgery for foraminal narrowing
Foraminal narrowing, also known as foraminal stenosis, is a condition in which one or more of the foraminal canals in the spine narrows or constricts.
The foramina are openings between the vertebrae that allow the nerve roots to exit the spine. Because these exits are already relatively narrow, anything that constricts the foramina, such as a bulging disc or bone spur, could compression to occur on the nerve root. If this happens, pain and limited mobility, as well as other symptoms, may develop.
While many patients may find relief through conservative treatments, such as physical therapy and spinal injections, certain severe cases of foraminal narrowing may require surgery.
Types of foraminal narrowing surgery
Deciding to undergo spine surgery is an important decision and should not be taken lightly. Surgery for foraminal narrowing is almost always an elective procedure and should only become a serious consideration after fully exhausting conservative treatments.
There are several specific spine surgery procedures that can be used to treat foraminal narrowing, including:
- Foraminotomy. This procedure involves the removal of the substance such as tissue, disc material or bone that is blocking one or more foramina.
- Laminectomy. A laminectomy removes the lamina of a vertebra, which helps to form the central spinal canal, and may indirectly relieve pressure on a nerve subjected to foraminal narrowing.
- Discectomy. Surgeons will perform a discectomy to remove all or part of a bulging or herniated disc compressing a nerve root.
- Fusion. Spinal fusion procedures involve the use of metal cages and bone grafts to fuse together the two vertebrae surrounding the narrowed foraminal canal. Fusion is often used in conjunction with one or more of the procedures above to improve spinal stability after spinal components have been surgically removed.
Benefits of minimally invasive spine surgery
Traditionally, surgery for foraminal narrowing meant a full open neck or back procedure that required a large incision, significant muscle disruption, overnight hospitalization and a lengthy recovery. Now, patients have the opportunity to choose a safer and effective alternative to traditional open back surgery.^
Laser Spine Institute provides minimally invasive spine surgery on an outpatient basis that can treat foraminal stenosis and many other spinal conditions. Our procedures use muscle-sparing techniques that allow for a small incision, offering our patients a lower risk of complications compared to traditional open neck or back surgery.^