The foramen (latin for “window”) is the hole through which a spinal nerve exits the spinal column to travel down the arm. Foraminal stenosis is narrowing of the hole causing compression of the spinal nerve. Foraminal stenosis can be due to a disc herniation/degeneration or degeneration of the facet joint. A cervical foraminotomy entails a minimally invasive microscopic procedure that enlarges the foramen by removing a small amount of bone, ligament, and joint capsule. In the right patient, the foraminotomy is a good alternative to a fusion operation.
Figure 1. This is an MRI axial image that shows the
narrowing of the foramen (black triangle) on the left
of the picture causing compression of the exiting nerve root
(white structure). This patient is an ideal example
of a candidate for a minimally invasive microscopic foraminotomy.