Foramen Magnum Stenosis Surgery

Pediatric neurosurgeons at Cedars-Sinai deliver specialized services that give children with skeletal dysplasia the childhood they deserve. We are leading experts in treating complications from skeletal dysplasia, including foramen magnum stenosis. 

This condition can lead to breathing difficulties and sometimes sudden death. We developed techniques for catching the early signs of this problem, providing lifesaving care for many children.

What Is Foramen Magnum Stenosis?

Typically, the brain stem and spinal cord pass through the foramen magnum, an opening at the base of the skull. Foramen magnum stenosis happens when the opening narrows, putting pressure on the brain or spinal cord. The best care includes early detection and possibly surgery to widen the opening.

Pioneering Care Techniques for Foramen Magnum Stenosis

Pediatric neurosurgery research at Cedars-Sinai has led to significant contributions in foramen magnum stenosis care, including:

  • Treatment guidelines: We participated in establishing recommendations that help children receive appropriate care, including surgery only when necessary. Children with mild narrowing often do not need surgery. And children who have surgery when they don’t need it may need a permanent shunt to drain excess fluid. Our efforts help children all over the country stay as healthy as possible.
  • Flex-extension MRI: We were among the first teams in the world using flexion-extension imaging. We determined that scanning a child's neck in the arched position (flexion) showed signs of narrowing that were otherwise easy to miss. This imaging allows us to detect foramen magnum stenosis that would not be visible with an MRI of the neck in neutral position.

Foramen Magnum Stenosis Treatments

We develop a personalized care plan for your child, which may include:

Watchful Waiting

If there is mild narrowing and your child has no symptoms, we may recommend regular imaging tests to see if it changes over time. If the narrowing is not affecting the brain or spinal cord, your child may not need surgery.


If the narrowing worsens, we perform surgery to widen the opening. Our years of experience with this procedure helps your child achieve excellent results. Surgery is reserved for significant stenosis in symptomatic patients.

Other Specialized Services for Children with Skeletal Dysplasia

Foramen magnum stenosis diagnosis and treatment are some of the many ways we care for children with skeletal dysplasia. We also: 

  • Perform comprehensive testing before or shortly after birth to provide an accurate diagnosis
  • Treat complications such as hydrocephalus, an abnormal buildup of fluid in the brain

Get more information about pediatric skeletal dysplasia care at Cedars-Sinai.

Have Questions or Need a Second Opinion?

Call us or send a message to our pediatric neurosurgery care team. You can also have us call you back at your convenience.

Pediatric Neurosurgery
7 days a week, 6 am - 9 pm PT