All you need to know about Microforaminotomy

What is Microforaminotomy?

A microforaminotomy is a form of minimally invasive spine surgery that aims to relieve the pressure from a compressed spinal cord or the nerve roots in the spinal column. The foramen – opening - for the nerve roots is expanded to increase the space available for the nerve roots to exit the spinal column.

A microforaminotomy requires less number of incisions as well as very small (keyhole) incisions for the procedure as compared to the large and many incisions required in a traditional foraminotomy. These features hold an added advantage over the traditional foraminotomy.

When is Microforamonitomy needed?

A microforaminotomy is usually required when certain spinal conditions result in narrowing the foraminal space in the vertebra, such as spinal stenosis, degenerative disc disease, spondylosis, etc. As the space for exiting the spinal column is restricted it causes pressure to build up against the exiting nerve root. This surgery helps in relieving the pain caused due to a pinched nerve root.

How is Microforaminotomy performed?

A microforaminotomy can be performed using several different techniques, such as:

  • Mini-open – This requires a surgery similar to an open foraminotomy but the difference is the use of specialized visualization and surgical instruments and tools to observe the spine through minimally invasive methods.
  • Tubular – In this type of microforaminotomy, the surgeon will insert a tube through a small incision and gradually push it through the back muscles till it reaches the spine. Later, a series of increasingly larger tubes is inserted over the other. This helps to eventually enlarge and access the area to be operated. Specialized instruments are then inserted through the tubes to perform the required surgical procedure.
  • Endoscopic – This method requires using the minimally invasive endoscopic method for surgery. It involves using a tiny video camera attached to the end of the endoscope (thin and flexible tube) to view the surgical area (narrowed foramen) and using specialized miniature surgical instruments attached to similar tubes for performing the procedure.

 What are the possible risks associated with Microforaminotomy?

As is seen in any form of major surgery, the microforaminotomy procedure also involves rare chances of certain risks, such as:

  • Anesthetic allergy
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Back pain/leg pain recurring
  • Blood vessel damage
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Spinal disability

The surgeon will take every possible precaution to avoid the chances of any of the risks from arising.

What is recovery after a Microforaminotomy like?

Mostly, patients find instant relief from the pain in the back or leg after a successful microforaminotomy and can return to normal everyday activities within a week. The doctor will be able to judge best as to the extent of your recovery from the microforaminotomy procedure.

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