Prospective Comparison of Posterior Fossa Exploration and Stereotactic Radiosurgery Dorsal Root Entry Zone Target as Primary Surgery for Patients With Idiopathic Trigeminal Neuralgia

Neurosurgery 67:633-639, 2010 DOI: 10.1227/01.NEU.0000377861.14650.98

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is the most common facial pain syndrome, with an incidence of approximately 27 per 100 000 patient-years.

OBJECTIVE: To prospectively compare facial pain outcomes for patients having either a posterior fossa exploration (PFE) or stereotactic radiosurgery (SRS) as their first surgery for idiopathic TN.

METHODS: Prospective cohort study of 140 patients with idiopathic TN who had either PFE (n = 91) or SRS (n = 49) from June 2001 until September 2007. The groups were similar with regard to sex, pain location, and pain duration. Patients who had SRS were older (67.1 vs 58.2 years; P < .001). The median follow-up after surgery was 38 months.

RESULTS: Patients who had PFE more commonly were pain free off medications (84% at 1 year, 77% at 4 years) compared with the SRS patients (66% at 1 year, 56% at 4 years; hazard ratio = 2.5; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-4.6; P = .003). Additional surgery for persistent or recurrent face pain was performed in 14 patients after PFE (15%) compared with 17 patients after SRS (35%; P = .009). Nonbothersome facial numbness occurred more frequently in the SRS group (33% vs 18%; P = .04). No difference was noted in other complications between patients who had PFE (12%) (dysesthetic facial pain, n = 3; cerebrospinal fluid leakage, n = 3; hearing loss, n = 2; wound infection, n = 1; pneumonia, n = 1; deep vein thrombosis, n = 1) and patients who had SRS (8%) (dysesthetic facial pain, n = 4; P = .47).

CONCLUSION: PFE is more effective than SRS as a primary surgical option for patients with idiopathic TN