What it is
A foraminotomy is an operation performed to relieve pressure on a spinal nerve as it exits the spine through an opening called the foramen. When this operation is performed in the neck region, it is called a cervical foraminotomy.
Typically this would be performed to relieve pain, numbness or tingling, and possibly weakness in the arm. The nerve that is trapped and compressed determines the precise distribution of the symptoms in the arm. The compression may be caused by bone spurs called osteophytes or by protruding disc material. Whatever the cause, a foraminotomy is indicated when the offending structure causing the compression is located laterally (to the side of the spinal cord). In cases where the pressure is more towards the midline, a procedure called anterior cervical discectomy is more appropriate.