JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Practice parameter: the diagnostic evaluation and treatment of trigeminal neuralgia (an evidence-based review): report of the Quality Standards Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology and the European Federation of Neurological Societies

G Gronseth, G Cruccu, J Alksne, C Argoff, M Brainin, K Burchiel, T Nurmikko, J M Zakrzewska
Neurology 2008 October 7, 71 (15): 1183-90
18716236

BACKGROUND: Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a common cause of facial pain.

PURPOSE: To answer the following questions: 1) In patients with TN, how often does routine neuroimaging (CT, MRI) identify a cause? 2) Which features identify patients at increased risk for symptomatic TN (STN; i.e., a structural cause such as a tumor)? 3) Does high-resolution MRI accurately identify patients with neurovascular compression? 4) Which drugs effectively treat classic and symptomatic trigeminal neuralgia? 5) When should surgery be offered? 6) Which surgical technique gives the longest pain-free period with the fewest complications and good quality of life?

METHODS: Systematic review of the literature by a panel of experts.

CONCLUSIONS: In patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TN), routine head imaging identifies structural causes in up to 15% of patients and may be considered useful (Level C). Trigeminal sensory deficits, bilateral involvement of the trigeminal nerve, and abnormal trigeminal reflexes are associated with an increased risk of symptomatic TN (STN) and should be considered useful in distinguishing STN from classic trigeminal neuralgia (Level B). There is insufficient evidence to support or refute the usefulness of MRI to identify neurovascular compression of the trigeminal nerve (Level U). Carbamazepine (Level A) or oxcarbazepine (Level B) should be offered for pain control while baclofen and lamotrigine (Level C) may be considered useful. For patients with TN refractory to medical therapy, Gasserian ganglion percutaneous techniques, gamma knife, and microvascular decompression may be considered (Level C). The role of surgery vs pharmacotherapy in the management of TN in patients with MS remains uncertain.

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