Surgical treatment of trigeminal neuralgia without vascular compression: 20 years of experience

Rogelio Revuelta-Gutiérrez, Miguel Angel López-González, José Luis Soto-Hernández
Surgical Neurology 2006, 66 (1): 32-6; discussion 36

BACKGROUND: There are few reports on the outcome of surgical treatment of TGN without vascular compression.

METHODS: Between 1984 and 2004, 668 patients underwent MVD for TGN. In 21 patients (3.1%), vascular compression was absent. The surgical strategy in these cases involved the following: (1) dissection and exposure of the entire trigeminal nerve root; (2) slight neurapraxia with bipolar tips at the trigeminal nerve root; and (3) isolation of trigeminal nerve with Teflon sponge fragments.

RESULTS: The patients' (female/male, 20:1) ages ranged from 33 to 77 years. Their right side was the most frequently involved (61.9%). Their mean duration of pain before treatment was 7.6 years (range = 1-20 years). At surgical exploration, vascular compression or anatomical abnormalities were absent in 15 patients (71.4%), arachnoidal thickening was present in 5 (23.8%), and fiber dissociation of the trigeminal nerve was present in 1 (4.8%). Mean follow-up after surgery was 17.7 months (range = 4-65 months). Immediate relief from pain occurred in all 21 patients. On Kaplan-Meier analysis, recurrence was maintained at 14.8% for 12, 24, and 36 months, increasing to 43.2% at 48 months. Permanent hypoesthesia was present in 6 patients (28.6%), whereas loss of corneal reflex was observed transiently in 1 (4.8%). Motor function of the trigeminal nerve was intact in all patients. No other complication was found.

CONCLUSION: The proposed surgical plan of standard MVD plus slight trigeminal nerve root neurapraxia is a safe and effective management option for TGN without vascular compression.

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