Patient reports of satisfaction after microvascular decompression and partial sensory rhizotomy for trigeminal neuralgia

Joanna M Zakrzewska, Benjamin C Lopez, Sung Eun Kim, Hugh B Coakham
Neurosurgery 2005, 56 (6): 1304-11; discussion 1311-2

OBJECTIVE: There are no reports of patient satisfaction surveys after either a microvascular decompression (MVD) or a partial sensory rhizotomy (PSR) for trigeminal neuralgia. This study compares patient satisfaction after these two types of posterior fossa surgery for trigeminal neuralgia, because it is postulated that recurrences, complications, and previous surgical experience reduce satisfaction.

METHODS: All patients who had undergone their first posterior fossa surgery at one center were sent a self-complete questionnaire by an independent physician. Among the 44 questions on four standardized questionnaires were 5 questions that related to patient satisfaction and experience of obtaining care. Patients were divided into those having their first surgical procedure (primary) and those who had had previous ablative surgery (nonprimary).

RESULTS: Response rates were 90% (220 of 245) of MVD and 88% (53 of 60) of PSR patients. Groups were comparable with respect to age, sex, duration of symptoms, mean duration of follow-up, and recurrence rates. Overall satisfaction with their current situation was 89% in MVD and 72% in PSR patients. Unsatisfied with the outcome were 4% of MVD and 20% of PSR patients, and this is a significant difference (P < 0.01). Satisfaction with outcome was higher in those undergoing this as a primary procedure. In the primary group, satisfaction was dependent on recurrence and complication/side effects status (each P < 0.01), but this was not the case in the nonprimary group. Patients expressed a desire for earlier posterior fossa surgery in 73% of MVD and 58% of PSR patients, and this was highest in the primary group. The final outcome was considered to be better than expected in 80% of MVD and 54% of PSR patients, but 22% of the PSR group (P < 0.01) thought they were worse off.

CONCLUSION: Patients undergoing posterior fossa surgery as a primary procedure are most satisfied and PSR patients are least satisfied, partly because of a higher rate of side effects.

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