A Systematic Review of the Management of Trigeminal Neuralgia in Patients with Multiple Sclerosis

World Neurosurg. (2018) 111:291-306

Patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) and multiple sclerosis (MS) are often treated with medications or a surgical procedure. However, there is little evidence that such treatments result in 50% pain reduction and improvement in quality of life. The aim of this systematic review is to evaluate the clinical effectiveness of treatments in patients with MS and trigeminal neuralgia.

METHODS: We searched Medline, EMBASE, and the Cochrane Collaboration database from inception until October 2016. Two authors independently selected studies for inclusions, data extraction, and bias assessment.

RESULTS: All studies were of low quality using the GRADE (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation) system. For medical management, 10 studies were included, of which one was a randomized controlled trial. Two studies were on the use of misopropol, unique to patients with MS. For surgical therapy, 26 studies with at least 10 patients and a minimum of 2 years follow-up were included. All types of surgical procedures are reported and the results are poorer for TN with MS, with 50% having a recurrence by 2 years. The main complication was sensory loss. Many patients had to undergo further procedures to become pain free and there were no agreed prognostic factors.

CONCLUSIONS: There was insufficient evidence to support any 1 medical therapy and so earlier surgery may be preferable. A patient with TN and MS has therefore to make a decision based on low-level evidence, beginning with standard drug therapy and then choosing a surgical procedure.