Cervical discs of the spine are located in the neck area. Seven cervical discs make up this portion of the spine, and attach the top portion of the spine to skull. Eight sets of spinal nerve roots extend from the cervical spine and serve the head and neck, upper portions of the shoulders and the arms. Pinched or otherwise compromised nerves in the neck area can cause pain, limited movement and weakness in the hands and arms.
Individuals who experience neck pain, shoulder pain or lower arm pain from pinched nerves in the neck may benefit from the surgical procedure. Individuals with swollen or bulging discs, bones damaged by trauma or conditions like arthritis or osteoporosis may also benefit from this procedure. This surgery is optimal for individuals who feel radiating pain to the fingers, hands and lower portion of the arm that often throbs, experiences weakness and limited mobility and range of motion caused by compression of nerves in the cervical area of the spine.
Two different types of cervical microforaminotomy are commonly performed:
A cervical microforaminotomy may be achieved through a frontal or anterior approach, or a rear or posterior approach. The effectiveness and safety of either approach will be determined by an orthopedic surgeon.
The cervical microforaminotomy procedure is performed in order to remove portions or fragments of bones or portions or fragments of herniated discs or diseased discs from the neck area to help relieve neck pain and associated shoulder and arm pain.
A cervical posterior microforaminotomy is a surgical procedure performed from the back of the neck. The procedure is necessary when a herniated disc compresses or pinches a spinal nerve root that extends from the spinal cord away from the neck, travels along the shoulder and down the arm. In this procedure, a small portion of the vertebral bone is removed in order to relieve the pressure and give the spinal nerve root more room.
In the posterior approach, the patient is placed face down on the operating table. An incision is made along the back of the neck to expose the bony roof or bumps along the spine in the neck area. Very small surgical instruments are inserted into the incision and gently move aside bone and soft tissues to expose the pinched nerve or herniated disc space.
The surgeon scrapes away portions of bone along the vertebrae where the pinched nerve is located, and may scrape or shave away portions of bone directly above and below the compressed nerve root.
Following the scraping or shaving of the bone, the surgeon will use another small instrument to check and verify the function and movement and freedom of the nerve. The bulging or herniated portion of the disc will be removed if a portion of that disc continues to bulge against the nerve root. Following removal of the portion of their herniated disc, the surgeon will watch and wait to make sure that the nerve root returns to its normal position. Then, the incision is closed.
During an anterior cervical foraminotomy approach, the procedure is the same, except that the spinal column in the neck area is accessed through the front of the neck. The patient is placed on his or her back, and the spinal column approached through an incision in the front portion of the neck.
Any type the spine surgery can be expensive. The approach (anterior or posterior), location, and surgical technique and procedure will also determine costs. Individuals in the United States can pay up to $30,000 or more on a cervical microforaminotomy procedure. Costs are directly related to surgeon's fees, operating room fees, anesthesiologist, imaging, and length of hospital stay. Costs may be reduced for individuals who have medical insurance.
Travelers to foreign destinations such as South Korea may save thousands of dollars on the same procedure. Travelers to South Korea may spend an average of $11,000 to $12,000 on cervical microforaminotomy procedures. Travelers visiting Croatia may spend roughly $5,000 on the same procedure.
Cervical microforaminotomy surgery may be performed by orthopedic surgeons who specialize in spinal surgeries, treatments and procedures. As with any other medical field, surgeons should be chosen according to their expertise and experience in related fields. Physicians and surgeons should be certified in their field, and show membership in national or regional boards or associations in his or her country of origin. Whenever possible, consumers are encouraged to get more than one opinion before engaging in any type of spinal surgery, as well as making sure that facilities, surgeons, and healthcare staff are accredited by international associations and organizations to ensure quality of equipment, technology, as well as quality of care by medical staff.
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