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Endoscopic vascular decompression of the trigeminal nerve.

BACKGROUND: Microvascular decompression is an effective method of treatment in trigeminal neuralgia. It may fail if a compressing vessel is overlooked during surgery. The endoscope has an edge over the microscope in visualizing such conflicts.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: This is a prospective study of 51 patients. Preoperative computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging scans were performed in all the cases. A 4 − 5 cm retroauricular skin incision was made and an about 3 cm craniectomy was performed. A 0° 4 mm telescope supported by the holder was used after the dural opening. A 2 by 6 cm sheet prepared from hand gloves was used to protect the brain. A Karl Storz 30° telescope was used for the visualization of the trigeminal nerve from the pons to Meckel's cave and dissection of the anterior conflict. Small pieces of dura patch were interposed between the nerve and the vessel. The microscope was not used at any stage. Post-operative infection, cerebrospinal fluid leak, cranial nerve deficit, failure of procedure in terms of pain relieves and recurrences of pain were recorded. The follow-up period ranged from 24 to 55 months with an average of 36 months.

RESULTS: There was no mortality or any major permanent complications. The duration of stay ranged from 3 to 10 days with an average of 3.6 days. The pain was relieved in 48 patients.

CONCLUSION: Endoscopic vascular decompression is an effective and safe alternative to endoscopic assisted microvascular decompression in trigeminal neuralgia.

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