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Posterior Cervical Microforaminotomy

This surgery is commonly performed to relieve chronic arm pain due to pinched nerves in the neck either due to bone spur or disc herniation.

Surgery takes about 2 hours. Patient's head is held in a Mayfield head holder that holds the head with 3 pins going into the skull bone during the surgery. Incision is made in the back of the neck and muscles are pushed apart exposing the bony structures of back of the neck. High speed drill is used to make opening into the area where nerve roots come out from the spinal cord. The nerve root may be gently manipulated so that a bone spur or disc fragment pinching the nerve root may be safely removed thus "decompressing" the nerve root.

Success rate is usually greater than 80%. Risks of the surgery include nerve root injury, spinal cord injury, wound infection, and persistent pain despite the surgery. Hospitalization is 2 to 3 days. After surgery patient's neck may be placed into a soft neck collar for comfort.

Recovery is rapid since fusion is not performed and patients may return to normal unrestricted activities in about a month. For the right indication this is an excellent operation in my experience.