A Systematic Review of Repeat Microvascular Decompression for Recurrent or Persistent Trigeminal Neuralgia

World Neurosurg. (2022) 158:226-233

When conservative therapy fails, microvascular decompression (MVD) has been the preferred treatment of primary trigeminal neuralgia (TN). However, the management of recurrent or persistent TN after MVD can often be difficult. The purpose of the present systematic review was to objectively analyze and summarize the reported literature regarding the feasibility of repeat MVD.

METHODS: We conducted a database search using the MEDLINE and PubMed databases until July 2020. The search terms used for title and abstract screening were as follows: “recurrent trigeminal neuralgia,” “persistent trigeminal neuralgia,” “repeat microvascular decompression,” and “reexploration.” The inclusion criteria for the systematic review were as follows: clinical studies (excluding case studies), repeat MVD treatment of TN, and studies that had recorded the pain relief outcomes, operative findings, and complications (if any).

RESULTS: Of the 1771 initial results obtained, we performed a full text screening of 43 studies, and, ultimately, 19 were deemed eligible. A total of 2247 patients had undergone MVD for TN, of whom, 311 had experienced recurrence (13.84%). Of the 311 patients, 178 had undergone repeat MVD. The average painfree interval was 27.75 months after the first MVD. The effective rate of repeat MVD was 91.66%, and 71.48% of the patients had had obvious compression found at repeat MVD. The postoperative complication rate after repeat MVD was 37.31% and was due to postoperative adhesions around the nerve and nerve injury caused by partial sensory rhizotomy. The most common complication after repeat MVD was facial numbness (21.89%), although the incidence of other complications was <5%.

CONCLUSIONS: For patients with recurrent or persistent pain after MVD, the findings from our systematic review support that repeat MVD remains a feasible treatment for recurrent or persistent TN.

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