Internal neurolysis versus intraoperative glycerin rhizotomy for trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 138:270–275, 2023

Internal neurolysis (IN) and intraoperative glycerin rhizotomy (ioGR) are emerging surgical options for patients with trigeminal neuralgia without neurovascular contact. The objective of this study was to compare the neurological outcomes of patients who underwent IN with those of patients who underwent ioGR.

METHODS The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients who underwent IN or ioGR for trigeminal neuralgia at our institution. Patient demographic characteristics and immediate postoperative outcomes, as well as long-term neurological outcomes, were compared.

RESULTS Of 1044 patients who underwent open surgical treatment for trigeminal neuralgia, 56 patients underwent IN and 91 underwent ioGR. Of these 147 patients, 37 had no evidence of intraoperative neurovascular conflict. All patients who underwent IN and 96.7% of patients who underwent ioGR had immediate postoperative pain relief. At last followup, patients who underwent IN had lower Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) pain intensity scores (p = 0.05), better BNI facial numbness scores (p < 0.01), and a greater degree of pain improvement (p = 0.05) compared with those who underwent ioGR. Patients who underwent IN also had significantly lower rates of symptomatic pain recurrence (p < 0.01) at last follow-up over an average of 9.5 months.

CONCLUSIONS IN appears to provide patients with a greater degree of pain relief, lower rates of facial numbness, and lower rates of pain recurrence compared with ioGR. Future prospective studies will better characterize long-term pain recurrence and outcomes.