Cervical Spine Surgery

What is a Cervical Foraminotomy?

A cervical foraminotomy is a minimally invasive procedure that enlarges the intervertebral foramen by removing the roof of the tunnel, and any other tissue seen pressing on the spinal nerve. The thick neck muscles cover and protect the nerve after the small amount of bone is removed.

A foraminotomy does not treat neck pain, it only treats arm and shoulder symptoms.

The inter-vertebral foramina are the two tunnels between adjacent vertebra that allow the spinal nerves to leave the spinal canal and pass to the rest of the body. The width of this tunnel can be decreased by degenerative disc collapse, facet joint or vertebral body osteophytes, or inter-vertebral disc herniation. The decreased tunnel size can compress the spinal nerve and cause shoulder, arm or hand pain, paresthesia, weakness or numbness.


  • Persisting arm pain
  • Paresthesia
  • Pins and needles
  • Numbness or
  • Weakness

These indications must have been shown to be due to spinal nerve compression, and have not responded to conservative treatment.

Severe arm muscle weakness, or arm pain that is not controlled by strong pain relievers, may result in immediate surgery to relieve the symptoms.


The goals of a cervical foraminotomy are to remove the tissues pressing on the spinal nerve, while maintaining spinal stability, motion and alignment. This should decrease the pain and weakness in the shoulder and arm.