Microvascular decompression in trigeminal neuralgia: predictors of pain relief, complication avoidance, and lessons learned

Acta Neurochirurgica (2021) 163:3321–3336

To analyze characteristics associated with long-term pain relief after microvascular decompression (MVD) for trigeminal neuralgia (TGN). Description of associated morbidity and complication avoidance.

Methods One hundred sixty-five patients with TGN underwent 171 MVD surgeries at the authors’ institution. Patient characteristics and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) datasets were obtained through the hospital’s archiving system. Patients provided information about pre- and post-operative pain characteristics and neurologic outcome. Favorable outcome was defined as a Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) pain intensity score of I to III with post-operative improvement of I grade.

Results Type of TGN pain with purely paroxysmal pain (p = 0.0202*) and TGN classification with classical TGN (p = 0.0372*) were the only significant predictors for long-term pain relief. Immediate pain relief occurred in 90.6% of patients with a recurrence rate of 39.4% after 3.5 ± 4.6 years. MRI reporting of a neurovascular conflict had a low negative predictive value of 39.6%. Mortality was 0% with major complications observed in 8.2% of patients. Older age was associated with lower complication rates (p = 0.0009***). Re-MVD surgeries showed improved long-term pain relief in four out of five cases.

Conclusions MVD is a safe and effective procedure even in the elderly. It has the unique potential to cure TGN if performed on a regular basis, and if key surgical steps are respected. Early MVD should be offered in case of medical treatment failure and paroxysmal pain symptoms. The presence of a neurovascular conflict on MRI is not mandatory. In case of recurrence, re-MVD is a good treatment option that should be discussed with patients.

Hemodynamic features of offending vessels at neurovascular contact in patients with trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm

J Neurosurg 130:1870–1876, 2019

Offending vessels at the site of neurovascular contact (NVC) in patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) and hemifacial spasm (HFS) may have specific hemodynamic features. The purpose of this study was to investigate the wall shear stress (WSS) of offending vessels at NVCs by conducting a computational fluid dynamics (CFD) analysis.

METHODS The authors retrospectively analyzed the cases of 20 patients (10 with TN and 10 with HFS) evaluated by 3D CT angiography and used the imaging findings for analysis of the hemodynamic parameters. The 3D CFD images were directly compared with the NVCs determined by simulated multifusion images of CT angiogram and MR cisternogram, and operative photos. The magnitudes of the WSS (WSSm) at the proximal (WSSm-p), just-beginning (WSSm-j), contact site (WSSm-s), and distal (WSSm-d) areas of each NVC were analyzed. The ratios of the WSSm-j, WSSm-s, and WSSm-d areas to the WSSm-p area were calculated individually. The direction of the WSS (WSSv) and its temporal variation (WSSvV) were depicted and morphologically compared with the NVC confirmed by simulated images and operative findings.

RESULTS The ratios of WSSm at the just-beginning and the contact site to the proximal area of the NVCs (WSSm-j/ WSSm-p and WSSm-s/WSSm-p) were both significantly higher than that at the distal area (WSSm-d/WSSm-p) (p < 0.05). The WSSv and WSSvV at the NVCs showed small variation in a single cardiac cycle, especially along the areas that were in contact with the affected nerve.

CONCLUSIONS Areas of relatively high WSSm and temporal variation of WSSm (WSSmV) were observed at the NVCs. Less mobility of the WSSv and WSSvV was detected along the side of the vessels in contact with the nerves. These findings may be consistent with the actual area of the NVC. Hemodynamic features of the site of NVC can be added to the preoperative simulation for MVD surgery, which may be useful for the diagnosis and treatment planning of TN and HFS.