The impact of needle location on clinical outcome of radiofrequency rhizotomy for trigeminal neuralgia

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:1575–1585

Radiofrequency thermocoagulation trigeminal rhizotomy (RT-TR) through the foramen ovale is a minimally invasive treatment for trigeminal neuralgia. Navigation of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and CT fusion imaging is a well-established method for cannulation of the Gasserian ganglion. In this study, we use the inline measurements from fusion image to analyze the anatomical parameters between the actual and simulation trajectories and compare the short- and intermediate-term outcomes according to determinable factors.

Methods The study included thirty-six idiopathic neuralgia patients who had undergone RT-TR with MRI and CT fusion image as a primary modality or repeated procedures.

Results Among thirty-six treated patients, the inline length of the trigeminal cistern was longer for the simulated trajectory (8.4 ± 2.4 versus 6.5 ± 2.8 mm; p < 0.05), and the predominant structure at risk extrapolated from the inline trajectory was the brainstem, which signified a more medially directed route, in contrast with the equal weighting of temporal lobe and brainstem for the actual trajectory. The preoperative visual analogue scale (VAS) was 9.3 ± 1.0, which decreased to 2.5 ± 2.6 and 2.9 ± 3.1 at first (mean, 3 months) and second (mean, 14 months) postoperative follow-up, respectively. The postoperative VAS scores at the two follow-ups were not statistically significant without a covariate analysis. After adjustment for covariate risk factors, the second follow-up sustained therapeutic benefit was evident in patients with no prior history of related treatment, an ablation temperature greater than 70 °C, and needle location within or adjacent to the trigeminal cistern.

Conclusions This preliminary study demonstrated that the needle location between cistern and ganglion also plays a significant role in better intermediate-term results.