Posterior-lateral foraminotomy as an exclusive operative technique for cervical radiculopathy: a review of 846 consecutively operated cases

Neurosurgery. 1983 Nov;13(5):504-12. doi: 10.1227/00006123-198311000-00004.


Between 1963 and 1980, one or more posterior-lateral foraminotomies were performed for simple cervical radiculopathy as the sole operative procedure for 736 patients. One hundred three patients (14%) required a second posterior procedure, but only 24 (3%) cases represented true recurrent radiculopathy. There were 13 minor complications (1.5%) and no deaths or detectable incidence of air embolism. All operations were done with the patient in the sitting position. Central venous pressure monitoring was used only infrequently. There was a 96% incidence of relief of significant arm pain and/or paresthesia and a 98% incidence of resolution of preoperatively present motor deficit. Eight hundred twenty-eight procedures (98%) were preceded by Pantopaque cervical myelography. There was a 71.5% incidence of correlation between preoperative clinical findings (both sensory and motor) and operative findings. In 13% of the cases, two spaces were thought by the operating surgeon to be equally involved by the spondylotic process. Most (91.5%) of the patients describe themselves as either "good or excellent" postoperatively. There was no significant difference postoperatively regarding results or recurrence between patients with suspected soft or hard disc protrusions and those with strictly spondylotic radiculopathy. Nor was there any statistical difference in results among the three patient population groups ("private" vs. compensation vs. liability). The mean length of time to return to work or other "normal" activities was 9.4 weeks. The mean length of follow-up time was 146 weeks (2.8 years). There was an associated incidence of significant lumbar disc and/or foraminal disease requiring operation of 33.4%.

MeSH terms

  • Cervical Vertebrae / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intervertebral Disc
  • Male
  • Methods
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / diagnosis
  • Peripheral Nervous System Diseases / surgery
  • Recurrence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Spinal Diseases / complications
  • Spinal Nerve Roots*