Neurosurgical Choice for Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia: A Benefit–Harm Assessment of Long-Term Quality of Life

Neurosurgery 88( 1) 2021: 131–139

Microvascular decompression (MVD) and vagoglossopharyngeal rhizotomy (VGR) are effective treatment for glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GN). However, surgical choice is controversial due to the need to maximize pain relief and reduce complications.

OBJECTIVE: To retrospectively compare safety, efficacy, long-term quality of life (QOL), and global impression of change following MVD and VGR for treatment of GN. METHODS: Patient database reviews and telephone surveys were conducted to assess baseline characteristics and long-term outcomes. The effects of pain and complications on QOL were assessed using Brief Pain Inventory-Facial (BPI-Facial) questionnaire. Complication tolerance and surgery satisfaction were sorted using the global impression of change survey.

RESULTS: Of 87 patients with GN, 63 underwentMVD alone, 20 underwent VGR alone, and 4 underwent VGR following a failed MVD. The long-term rate of pain relief was slightly, but not significantly, lower following MVD than VGR (83.6% vs 91.7%, P = .528). However, long-term complications occurred much more frequently following VGR (3.0% vs 50.0%, P < .001). The BPI-Facial, which evaluates pain and complications, showed that MVD had better postoperative QOL than VGR (P < .001). However, 91.7% of patients who underwent VGR experienced no or mild complications. There was no significant difference in the overall satisfaction rates between the groups (83.3% vs 83.6%, P > .99).

CONCLUSION: Although VGR resulted in lower postoperative QOL due to a high complication rate, most of these complications were mild. The overall satisfaction rates for the 2 surgeries were similar.