Various surgical modalities for trigeminal neuralgia: literature study of respective long-term outcomes

M Tatli, O Satici, Y Kanpolat, M Sindou
Acta Neurochirurgica 2008, 150 (3): 243-55

BACKGROUND: The literature contains many varying, often conflicting surgical results. However, there is no study comparing long-term effectiveness of all surgical procedures for trigeminal neuralgia (TN). The aim of the present analysis is to report the long-term outcomes of surgical options of TN since the development of electronic databases, to evaluate them with the same clinical and statistical criteria and determine the most appropriate treatment.

METHOD: All studies that had a minimum 5 years or more (> or =5 years) mean duration of follow-up were included in the review. The identified studies were evaluated independently by two authors for quality using a modified inclusion criteria. The evaluated outcome measures of this study were, the initial acute pain relief (APR), follow-up pain free period and recurrence rates as well as complications. In comparisons of the data, the Student's t-test, Chi-square followed by Pearson's risk analysis tests were used. Kaplan-Meier actuarial analysis of pain free-survival curves were constructed for each surgical option that had enough data.

FINDINGS: Twenty-eight studies, mostly including microvascular decompression (MVD) and radiofrequency thermorhizotomy (RF-TR), that met the inclusion criteria were included in the review. The efficacy of MVD and percutaneous balloon microcompression (PBC) were similar (Odds ratio = 0.15, P > 0.05), and their effects were superior to those of the other modalities (P < 0.001). Although RF-TR provided a high initial pain relief, its average pain free rate was 50.4% for a mean follow-up of 5 years. The recurrence rate was high after RF-TR (46%), while the lowest recurrence rate (18.3%) was after MVD (P < 0.001). Within the long-term follow-up period recurrence of pain affects at least 19% of patients who undergo any surgical treatment for TN.

CONCLUSIONS: The study suggests that each surgical technique for treatment of trigeminal neuralgia has merits and limitations. However, MVD provides the highest rate of long-term patient' satisfaction with the lowest rate of pain recurrence.

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