Posterior Foraminotomy and Discectomy

Information From UVA’s Expert Neurosurgeons

Posterior foraminotomy and discectomy is one of the oldest operations for cervical disc disease, and remains effective with few variations from the original surgery.  It is generally used for disc herniations off to one side, but is also effective in relieving arm pain caused by nerve pressure from arthritic bone spurs.

The patient is placed face down on the operating table and the head is secured with 3 pins and flexed forward.  After the surgery the patient will have 3 small holes, usually behind the hairline, will heal up quickly and without the need for sutures.

f1An incision is made in the back of the neck and the muscles are removed from the bones on the affected side.  A drill is then used to widen to opening through which the nerve passes, and any bone spurs pressing on the nerve are removed with special instruments.  This is generally done with an operating microscope for improved vision.

After the opening for the nerve is widened, the disc space is epxlored.  Any bulges or extruded disc material is removed, but the majority of the disc is left undisturbed.  The incision is then closed with sutures and bandaged.  There may be an option for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.  The bandage can be removed 48 hours after surgery, but should be kept dry for about a week.

Patients can generally resume normal activity when they feel up to it, usually in a few weeks.  The neck may be quite sore after surgery from the incision in the muscles.  For more about what to expect if you are a patient having this surgery at UVA, click here .

Our Team of Experts

Our spine specialists includes neurosurgeons Avery BuchholzGreg HelmMark Shaffrey, Justin Smith, Dennis Vollmer and Chun-Po Yen.

Contact Us for More Information

Click on their links for individual contact information, or please feel free to call our general number (434) 924-2203 (Local) or 1-800-362-2203 (Toll free) and our staff will help you.