Purely venous compression in trigeminal neuralgia—can we predict the outcome of surgery

Acta Neurochirurgica (2022) 164:1567–1573

Controversies regarding venous compression and trigeminal neuralgia (TN) still exist. The study demonstrates our experience for microvascular decompression (MVD) in TN caused by purely venous compression. The goal was to identify prognostic anatomical or surgical factors that may influence the outcome.

Methods Between 2004 and 2020, 49 patients were operated with purely venous compression. Average age was 58.4 years. Mean history of TN was 7.8 years. Microsurgical procedures included transposition or separation of the vein, coagulation, and division. Several features have been analyzed with respect to BNI scores.

Results Evaluation on discharge revealed a complete pain relief in 39 (80%), partial improvement in 7 (14%), and no benefit in 3 (6%) patients. Facial hypesthesia was reported by 14 (28.6%) patients. Mean follow-up (FU) was 42.1 months. BNI pain intensity score on FU revealed 71.4% excellent to very good scores (score 1: 32 (65.3%); 2: 3 (6.1%)). BNI facial numb- ness score 2 could be detected in 13 patients (26.5%) during FU. There was no statistical relationship between immediate pain improvement or BNI pain intensity score on FU with respect to surgical procedure, size of trigeminal cistern, type of venous compression, venous caliber, trigeminal nerve indentation, or neurovascular adherence. BNI facial numbness score was dependent on type of venous compression (p < 0.05).

Conclusion We did not find typical anatomical features that could either predict or influence the outcome regarding pain improvement or resolution in any form. Neither classic microvascular decompression (interposition/transposition) nor sacrificing the offending vein made any difference in outcome.