An endoscopic foraminotomy is a minimally invasive procedure for patients suffering from a compressed nerve in the spinal canal. A compressed nerve may be the result of bone spurs, herniated discs, or degenerative conditions such as arthritis or spinal stenosis. This outpatient procedure manages to relieve back pain, weakness, and tingling in the upper and lower extremities by removing fragments from the foramen to release the nerve from compression.
During this minimally invasive procedure, the patient is administered general anesthesia, and the surgical site is sterilized to reduce the risk of infection. The surgeon then makes several small incisions to access the compressed nerve in the spine. With the help of a device called a fluoroscope, a thin line known as a guide wire is inserted into the spine. A few surgical instruments are then used to widen the space created by the guide wire. That way, the surgeon has access to the compressed nerve without having to make additional incisions. The endoscope travels down a thin tube so the surgeon can see the inside of the spine. Once the spine surgeon locates the cause of the nerve compression, small instruments can begin removing bone fragments or protruding discs, all while protecting the surrounding nerve root. As soon as the surgeon has alleviated the pressure, he or she will close the incision. Because minimally invasive techniques or tools were used, only a couple stitches are needed to close the incision site. Patients are then taken to a separate room to recover from the procedure.
Patients undergoing this procedure are usually discharged and sent home the same day as the surgery. Patients often experience considerable pain relief right away, although some patients may not feel the full effect of the procedure for a couple of weeks. Patients may feel well enough to begin walking a short while after spine surgery. Because an endoscopic foraminotomy is a minimally invasive procedure, patients may only have a small scar, experience less overall pain, and recover faster compared to open surgery. Although it's rare, patients should call Orthopedic and Wellness in the event of a complication. During a follow-up visit, an Orthopedic and Wellness physician may recommend physical therapy to help patients gain the full benefits of the procedure.