Occipital neuralgia is a rare cause of severe headache characterized by paroxysmal shooting or stabbing pain in the distribution of the greater occipital or lesser occipital nerve. In cases of intractable occipital neuralgia, a definite cause has not been uncovered, so various types of treatment have been applied. The aim of this study is to evaluate the prognostic factors, safety, and long-term clinical efficacy of second cervical (C2) ganglion decompression for intractable occipital neuralgia.
Methods Retrospective analysis was performed in 68 patients with medically refractory occipital neuralgia who underwent C2 ganglion decompression. Factors based on patients’ demography, pre- and postoperative headache severity/characteristics, medication use, and postoperative complications were investigated. Therapeutic success was defined as pain relief by at least 50 % without ongoing medication.
Results The visual analog scale (VAS) score was significantly reduced between the preoperative and most recent follow-up period. One year later, excellent or good results were achieved in 57 patients (83.9 %), but poor in 11 patients (16.1 %). The long-term outcome after 5 years was only slightly less than the 1-year outcome; 47 of the 68 patients (69.1 %) obtained therapeutic success. Longer duration of headache (over 13 years; p=0.029) and presence of retro-orbital/frontal radiation (p=0.040) were significantly associated with poor prognosis.
Conclusions In the current study, C2 ganglion decompression provided durable, adequate pain relief with minimal complications in patients suffering from intractable occipital neuralgia. Due to the minimally invasive and nondestructive nature of this surgical procedure, C2 ganglion decompression is recommended as an initial surgical treatment option for intractable occipital neuralgia before attempting occipital nerve stimulation. However, further study is required to manage the pain recurrence associated with longstanding nerve injury.
Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a disorder of the trigeminal nerve that results in intense episodic pain. Primary treatment with Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) is well established; however, a significant number of patients experience recurrence of TN over time. Repeat GKS can be performed, but the retreatment dose has not been well established. In this study, the authors present their institutional retreatment results and compare them with other series.
Between December 2003 and January 2006, 28 patients were treated at Tufts Medical Center with repeat GKS for recurrence of TN. All patients had been initially treated with GKS at this institution, and only those with significant pain improvement were offered retreatment. The maximum dose was prescribed using a single isocenter; the 4-mm collimator was used. The initial median GKS dose was 80 Gy, the median retreatment dose was 45 Gy, and the median cumulative dose was 125 Gy. The median time between GKS procedures was 18.1 months. Facial pain outcomes were defined using the Marseille scale. Excellent outcome was defined as no pain (with or without medications), and good outcome was defined as > 50% pain relief. Toxicity was categorized as none, mild, or bothersome. The median clinical follow-up after the second GKS was 19.7 months. Our clinical outcomes were compared with 8 previously reported retreatment series (including 1 abstract), both for rate of pain control and for rate of complications.
Outcomes after the second GKS were excellent in 29% (8 patients), good in 32% (9), and poor in 39% (11). Four patients (14%) experienced no improvement after repeat GKS. Eight patients (29%) experienced new trigeminal nerve dysfunction, including numbness (11%), paresthesia (14%), dysesthesia (4%), taste alteration (11%), and bite weakness (4%). None of these were bothersome. No patient developed corneal numbness. Univariate analysis failed to reveal any significant predictors of pain control or complications.
Seven published peer-reviewed retreatment series and the authors’ data (total 215 patients) were analyzed. There was a cumulative dose-response relationship for both pain control (p = 0.04) and new trigeminal dysfunction (p = 0.08). Successful pain control was strongly correlated with development of new dysfunction (p = 0.02). A cumulative dose > 130 Gy was more likely to result in successful (> 50%) pain control, but was also more likely (> 20%) to result in development of new dysfunction.
Successful retreatment of patients in whom the initial GKS treatment fails is feasible. Patients who respond initially may be at a higher risk of retreatment-related complications. There appears to be a dose-response relationship for both pain control and development of new side effects. It is important to counsel and treat patients individually based on this dose-response relationship.
Introduction Although Gasserian ganglion block is an established treatment for trigeminal neuralgia, the foramen ovale cannot always be clearly visualized by classical X-ray radiography. We present a new method for percutaneous radio-frequency thermocoagulation of the Gasserian ganglion, in which computed tomography (CT) fluoroscopy is used to guide needle placement.
Methods In the present study, 15 patients with trigeminal neuralgia underwent percutaneous radio-frequency thermocoagulation of the Gasserian ganglion guided by high-speed real-time CT fluoroscopy.
Results Trigeminal neuralgia was improved in all patients after treatment without any severe complications. Moderate dysesthesia occurred in only one case.
Conclusion CT fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous radio-frequency thermocoagulation of the Gasserian ganglion was safe, quick, and effective for patients with intractable idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia.