Redo surgery for trigeminal neuralgia: reasons for re‐exploration and long‐term outcomes

Acta Neurochirurgica (2021) 163:2407–2416

To investigate the causes of failure and recurrence after microvascular decompression (MVD) for trigeminal neuralgia (TGN) and to analyze the results of redo surgery.

Methods Sixty-three cases of redo surgery were retrospectively reviewed. Reasons for re-exploration were categorized into 4 groups based on the operative findings. Patient characteristics, outcomes of re-exploration, and operative complications were analyzed by Kaplan–Meier and logistic regression analyses.

Results Reasons for redo surgery were divided into arterial compression in 13 patients (21%), venous compression in 11 patients (17%), prosthesis-related in 25 patients (40%), and adhesion or negative exploration in 14 patients (22%). Immediate pain relief was obtained in 59 patients (94%) postoperatively with newly developed facial numbness in 17 patients (27%). Of these, 48 patients (76%) maintained pain-free 1 year postoperatively. Overall recurrence was noted in 17 patients (27%) during the median 49-month follow-up period. Most recurrences occurred within 1 year after redo surgery, but the prosthesis-related patients showed a continuous recurrence up to 4 years. Patients having vascular compression showed significantly better pain control than those without vascular contact in Kaplan–Meier analyses (p = 0.0421). No prognostic factor for pain-free 1 year after redo surgery was found.

Conclusions Redo surgery is effective for patients with remaining vascular compression rather than those without vascular contact. Teflon contact onto the nerve root should be avoided because it is a potential risk for recurrence and causes poor prognosis after redo surgery.