What is Cervical Microforaminotomy?

As a neck surgeon, Dr. Braxton performs anterior microforaminotomy disc preservation for patients diagnosed with degenerative disease of the cervical spine. This procedure is performed in a minimally invasive manner with the goal of ameliorating compression on the spinal cord and spinal nerve roots through the foramen. Foramen are openings in the vertebral structure through which spinal nerves exit the spinal canal and branch out to the body. They are located on both sides of the vertebrae between each adjacent level.

Some diseases of the spine commonly reduce the size of the foramen opening causing degeneration to the nerve, disc and vertebral structure. Patients experience symptoms caused by spinal stenosis and radiculopathy. Dr. Braxton can provide a comprehensive patient evaluation to determine if an anterior microforaminotomy disc preservation surgery is a recommended treatment for patients with these conditions.

What is the Difference Between an Open Foraminotomy and Microforaminotomy?

Unlike open foraminotomy surgery, cervical microforaminotomy uses a minimally invasive approach. Patients who undergo a microforaminotomy benefit from a speedier recovery and return to normal activities. This is due to:

  • Smaller incision wound
  • Minimal muscle and soft tissue damage
  • Decreased blood loss
  • Reduced post-surgery pain
  • Shorter surgical process

Starting with a small incision, Dr. Braxton’s advanced surgical process includes using specialized surgical instruments and techniques to accomplish the minimally invasive repair. In open foraminotomy, soft tissue and muscle are cut through to gain access. Once the surgical site is reached in either approach the foramen space is enlarged. This enlargement resolves nerve root compression and nerve root, disc, and vertebral conditions are normalized.

What Does Cervical Microforaminotomy Treat?

When a patient experiences the symptoms of cervical spinal stenosis, radiculopathy, myelopathy, and other cervical spine conditions, it is frequently caused by pressure, pinching and compression upon the spinal nerve root as it branches out of the cervical spinal canal and into the body. Cervical microforaminotomy treats the underlying condition resulting in a return to normal nerve function and reduction in symptoms. Preoperatively, patient symptoms can include:

  • Neck stiffness or pain

  • Sensations of tingling and numbness in arm, hand, foot or leg

  • Loss of strength in arm, hand, foot or leg

  • Loss of balance

  • Changes in walking

  • Urgency in bowel or bladder function or incontinence

  • Diminished fine motor skills including grip

How is a Cervical Anterior Microforaminotomy Performed?

Dr. Braxton performs the cervical anterior microforaminotomy surgery under general anesthesia. Patients are positioned on the stomach, allowing access to the back of the neck. Advanced minimally invasive instruments are used to access the surgical site. Once prepared, the repairs are made to the affected foramen including the removal of material, disc fragments, or bony protrusions that press on the nerve. Typically, this procedure takes 2 hours to perform.

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How Long is the Recovery After Cervical Microforaminotomy Spinal Decompression Surgery?

Dr. Braxton commonly performs cervical microforaminotomy spine decompression surgery as an outpatient procedure. Patients are discharged within several hours and find they can return to normal activity within a couple of weeks. The scope of the surgery and the patient’s overall health will dictate the length of the recovery period.

Many patients report reduced pain soon after the procedure, however, it is important to follow Dr. Braxton’s post-surgery instructions. Good health practices such as adequate sleep and rest, pain management, wound care, and following prescribed movement activities are necessary to ensure an optimal recovery. A gradual return to daily tasks and more vigorous activities is commonly recommended and follow up appointments with Dr. Braxton allow patients progress to be monitored. Studies indicate the great majority of patients report a good result from a microforaminotomy procedure.

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