Comparison of first-time microvascular decompression with percutaneous surgery for trigeminal neuralgia: long-term outcomes and prognostic factors

Acta Neurochirurgica (2021) 163:1623–1634

Common surgical treatments for trigeminal neuralgia (TN) include microvascular decompression (MVD) and percutaneous procedures (glycerol rhizolysis; thermocoagulation; and balloon compression). Although the efficacy of each procedure has been documented, direct comparisons of their relative efficacies for TN are lacking. We aimed to directly compare long-term outcomes after first-time MVD with percutaneous surgery in primary (idiopathic and classical) TN and identify predictors of outcome.

Methods We conducted a retrospective analysis of prospectively collected data on 185 patients undergoing MVD and 129 undergoing percutaneous surgery. Procedures were performed by one of two neurosurgeons in a single centre; an independent observer collected long-term follow-up data by interviews, using the same outcome measures for all procedures.

Results MVD patients were younger than those undergoing percutaneous surgery (P <.001). MVD provided superior initial pain relief (P <.001): 87.0% had Barrow Neurological Institute class I or II pain scores after MVD compared with 67.2% after percutaneous surgery. The complication rate for percutaneous procedures was 35.7% and for MVDs was 24.9% (P =.04), including minor and transient complications. Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated that MVD provided longer pain relief than percutaneous procedures (P <.001); 25%of patients had recurrence at 96 months followingMVD compared with 12 months after percutaneous surgery. Subgroup analysis showed that balloon compression provided more durable relief amongst percutaneous procedures. Multivariate analysis revealed that post-operative numbness and age were prognostic factors for percutaneous procedures (P =.03 and .01, respectively).

Conclusions MVD provides better initial pain relief and longer durability of relief than percutaneous surgery, although carrying a small risk of major complications. Amongst percutaneous procedures, balloon compression gave the most durable relief from pain. Older age and post-operative numbness were predictors of good outcome from percutaneous surgery. These results can help clinicians to counsel patients with primary TN on neurosurgical treatment selection for pain relief.

Keywords Microvascular decompression . Balloon compression . Glycerol . Thermocoagulation . Trigeminal neuralgia . Pain

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