The importance of routine magnetic resonance imaging in trigeminal neuralgia diagnosis

B T Goh, C Y Poon, R H Peck
Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Oral Radiology, and Endodontics 2001, 92 (4): 424-9
The aim of the study was to determine the frequency of structural lesions diagnosed on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in a sample of patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) and to compare history and clinical features between the groups with and without structural lesions. Clinical records and MRI findings of 42 consecutive patients diagnosed with TN at the National Dental Centre, Singapore, and who underwent routine MRI examinations at diagnostic workup between April 1997 and March 1999 were retrospectively studied. Of these, 6 (14.3%; 95% confidence interval, 0 to 28.8%) were diagnosed with an associated structural lesion. Mean age of the group with structural lesions was 53.3 years (standard deviation, 10.9 years) at presentation, there was female predominance (M:F = 1:2), and all (100.0%) gave a typical pain history and had unilateral involvement of a single division of the trigeminal nerve. Two patients (33.3%) had other cranial nerve abnormalities. Three patients (50.0%) had complete, 2 patients (33.3%) had partial, and 1 patient (16.7%) had poor response to medical therapy. None of these variables was statistically different from the group without structural lesions (cranial nerve abnormalities were not compared). In conclusion, the frequency of structural lesions associated with TN in our sample was relatively high. It is not possible to reliably identify high risk patients for selective MRI indication on the basis of history and clinical features. It may be prudent to consider routine MRI for all patients with TN to exclude structural lesions.

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