A racial analysis of pain outcomes following microvascular decompression for trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 139:633–639, 2023

Pain outcomes by race in trigeminal neuralgia (TN) are not well investigated. The authors aimed to compare microvascular decompression (MVD) outcomes in TN patients on the basis of self-identified race.

METHODS The authors retrospectively reviewed all patients with TN who underwent MVD at their institution from 2007 to 2020. Each patient’s self-reported race was recorded, and Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) scores for pain and numbness were compared. Factors associated with pain recurrence were assessed using survival analyses and multivariate regressions.

RESULTS Of 1011 patients, 925 reported their racial demographic characteristics, and patients who identified as Native American or American Indian and Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander were excluded due to small sample sizes. Of the resulting 921 patients, 697 (75.7%) patients identified as White, 108 (11.7%) as Black or African American, 39 (4.2%) as Asian, and 77 (8.4%) as other. Compared with White patients, Black TN patients were more likely to present with type 1 TN (p = 0.02). At final follow-up, the mean BNI pain score of Black patients was significantly higher (p < 0.001) compared with that of White patients, although pain scores did not differ preoperatively. The adjusted multivariate ordinal regression model showed that Black patients were associated with higher BNI pain scores at final follow-up (p = 0.01). Furthermore, compared with White patients, Black patients were at increased risk for postoperative pain recurrence (p = 0.04), which additionally occurred after a shorter median pain-free duration (p = 0.03).

CONCLUSIONS TN patients who identify as Black or African American exhibit worse postoperative pain outcomes after MVD compared with White patients. Future studies investigating the factors driving these racial differences are warranted.

Effect of lesion temperature on the durability of percutaneous radiofrequency rhizotomies to treat trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 139:625–632, 2023

Percutaneous radiofrequency rhizotomy is a common procedure for trigeminal neuralgia (TN) that creates thermocoagulative lesions in the trigeminal ganglion. Lesioning parameters for the procedure are left to the individual surgeon’s discretion, and published guidance is primarily anecdotal. The purpose of this work was to assess the role of lesioning temperature on long-term surgical outcomes.

METHODS This was a retrospective analysis of patients who underwent percutaneous radiofrequency rhizotomy from 2009 to 2020. Patient data, including demographics, disease presentation, surgical treatment, and outcomes, were collected from medical records. The primary endpoint was the recurrence of TN pain. Univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazards regressions were used to assess the impact of chosen covariates on pain-free survival.

RESULTS A total of 280 patients who had undergone 464 procedures were included in the analysis. Overall, roughly 80% of patients who underwent rhizotomy would have a recurrence within 10 years. Lower lesion temperature was predictive of longer periods without pain recurrence (HR 1.05, p < 0.001). The inclusion of lesion time, postoperative numbness, prior history of radiofrequency rhizotomy, surgeon, and multiple sclerosis as confounding variables did not affect the hazard ratio or the statistical significance of this finding. Postoperative numbness and the absence of multiple sclerosis were significant protective factors in the model.

CONCLUSIONS The study findings suggest that lower lesion temperatures and, separately, postoperative numbness result in improved long-term outcomes for patients with TN who undergo percutaneous radiofrequency rhizotomies. Given the limitations of retrospective analysis, the authors suggest that a prospective multisite clinical trial testing lesion temperatures would provide definitive guidance on this issue with specific recommendations about the number needed to treat and trial design.

Sacrifice or preserve the superior petrosal vein in microvascular decompression surgery

J Neurosurg 138:390–398, 2023

In microvascular decompression (MVD) surgery through the retrosigmoid approach, the surgeon may have to sacrifice the superior petrosal vein (SPV). However, this is a controversial maneuver. To date, high-level evidence comparing the operative outcomes of patients who underwent MVD with and without SPV sacrifice is lacking. Therefore, this study sought to bridge this gap.

METHODS The authors searched the Medline and PubMed databases with appropriate Medical Subject Heading (MeSH) terms and keywords. The primary outcome was vascular-related complications; secondary outcomes were new neurological deficit, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leak, and neuralgia relief. The pooled proportions of outcomes and OR (95% CI) for categorical data were calculated by using the logit transformation and Mantel-Haenszel methods, respectively.

RESULTS Six studies yielding 1143 patients were included, of which 618 patients had their SPV sacrificed. The pooled proportion (95% CI) values were 3.82 (0.87–15.17) for vascular-related complications, 3.64 (1.0–12.42) for new neurological deficits, 2.85 (1.21–6.58) for CSF leaks, and 88.90 (84.90–91.94) for neuralgia relief. The meta-analysis concluded that, whether the surgeon sacrificed or preserved the SPV, the odds were similar for vascular-related complications (2.5% vs 1.5%, OR [95% CI] 1.01 [0.33–3.09], p = 0.99), new neurological deficits (1.2% vs 2.8%, OR [95% CI] 0.55 [0.18–1.66], p = 0.29), CSF leak (3.1% vs 2.1%, OR [95% CI] 1.16 [0.46–2.94], p = 0.75), and neuralgia relief (86.6% vs 87%, OR [95% CI] 0.96 [0.62–1.49], p = 0.84).

CONCLUSIONS SPV sacrifice is as safe as SPV preservation. The authors recommend intentional SPV sacrifice when gentle retraction fails to enhance surgical field visualization and if the surgeon encounters SPV-related neurovascular conflict and/or anticipates impeding SPV-related bleeding.


Increase in Trigeminal Nerve Cross-Sectional Area on Immediate Postoperative MRI Predicts Favorable Outcome After Microvascular Decompression for Classical Trigeminal Neuralgia

Neurosurgery 92:283–292, 2023

Although distortion or indentation of a trigeminal nerve due to neurovascular compression (NVC) is associated with classical trigeminal neuralgia, whether morphological change in the trigeminal nerve is relieved by eliminating NVC has not been studied.

OBJECTIVE: To estimate morphological change in the trigeminal nerve after microvascular decompression (MVD).

METHODS: Fifty patients with classical trigeminal neuralgia who underwent MVD were included. Using coronal images in both preoperative and postoperative MRI, the trigeminal nerve cross-sectional area (CSA) was measured at 4 mm anterior to the nerve entry into the pons. Clinical outcomes were assessed using the Barrow Neurological Institute Pain Intensity Scale (BNI-PS) at the patient’s latest follow-up.

RESULTS: Forty-one patients achieved favorable outcomes without medication (BNI-PS I or II), and 9 patients had residual pain (BNI-PS ≥ 3A). The mean symptomatic trigeminal nerve CSA was increased by 51.47% after MVD in the favorable outcome group (pre-operative: 4.37 ± 1.64 mm 2 vs postoperative: 6.26 ± 1.76 mm2 , P < .01), whereas it was not significantly changed in the unfavorable outcome group (preoperative: 4.20 ± 1.19 mm2 vs postoperative: 4.43 ± 1.24 mm2 , P = .69). Kaplan–Meier survival analysis showed that the 3-year probability of maintaining a favorable outcome was 92.3 ± 7.4% and 56.1 ± 11.9%, for those whose symptomatic trigeminal nerve CSA was increased by over 20% and less than 20%, respectively (P < .01).

CONCLUSION: Morphological changes in the trigeminal nerve due to NVC could be recovered by MVD, and increases in the trigeminal nerve CSA predicted favorable outcomes.

Incidence of repeat procedures and healthcare utilization following surgery, radiosurgery, and percutaneous procedures in elderly patients with trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 137:828–839, 2022

Management of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) in elderly patients poses significant challenges. The impact of different treatment modalities (surgery, radiosurgery [RS], and percutaneous techniques [PTs]) on healthcare utilization is not well defined in the management of TN in elderly patients. The aim of this study was to compare the long-term healthcare utilization metrics of different interventions in the management of elderly patients with TN.

METHODS The MarketScan database was queried using the International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision and Current Procedural Terminology, from 2000 to 2016. TN patients ≥ 65 years of age managed using surgery, RS, and PTs with at least 5 years of follow-up after the index procedure were included. Outcomes analyzed were hospital admissions, outpatient services, and medication refills.

RESULTS Of 993 patients, 43% (n = 430) underwent RS, 44% (n = 432) had PTs, and only 13% (n = 131) underwent surgery for TN. Overall, the median age of patients was 74 years old, 64% were females, 90% had Medicare insurance, and 17% had an Elixhauser index ≥ 3. Patients in the surgery group were younger (median age 71 years) with a higher comorbidity index (≥ 3; 24%) compared with patients undergoing RS and PTs (13% and 17%, respectively). At 1, 2, and 5 years after the index procedure, 41%, 48%, and 57% of patients in the PT cohort underwent any repeat procedure compared with 11%, 18%, and 29% for the RS cohort, and 6%, 9%, and 11% for the surgical cohort, respectively. Also, patients in the PT cohort incurred 1.8, 1.9, and 2.0 times the combined payment at 1, 2, and 5 years, respectively, compared with the surgery cohort. Similarly, patients who underwent RS for TN incurred 1.4, 1.5, and 1.5 times the combined payment at 1, 2, and 5 years, respectively, compared with the surgery cohort. At 5 years after the index procedure, combined payments for the PT cohort were $79,753 (IQR $46,013, $144,064) compared with $61,016 (IQR $27,114, $117,097) for the RS cohort and $41,074 (IQR $25,392, $87,952) for the surgery cohort (p < 0.0001).

CONCLUSIONS PTs followed by RS were the common procedures used in the majority of elderly patients with TN. However, surgery for TN resulted in durable control with the least need for reoperations up to 5 years after the index procedure, followed by RS and PTs. PTs for TN resulted in the highest utilization of healthcare resources and need for reoperations at all time points. These findings should be considered in clinical decision-making when selecting appropriate treatment modalities in elderly patients with TN.

Results of three or more Gamma Knife radiosurgery procedures for recurrent trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 135:1789–1798, 2021

Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) is an established surgical option for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia (TN), particularly for high-risk surgical candidates and those with recurrent pain. However, outcomes after three or more GKRS treatments have rarely been reported. Herein, the authors reviewed outcomes among patients who had undergone three or more GKRS procedures for recurrent TN.

METHODS The authors conducted a multicenter retrospective analysis of patients who had undergone at least three GKRS treatments for TN between July 1997 and April 2019 at two different institutions. Clinical characteristics, radiosurgical dosimetry and technique, pain outcomes, and complications were reviewed. Pain outcomes were scored on the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) scale, including time to pain relief (BNI score ≤ III) and recurrence (BNI score > III).

RESULTS A total of 30 patients were identified, including 16 women and 14 men. Median pain duration prior to the first GKRS treatment was 10 years. Three patients (10%) had multiple sclerosis. Time to pain relief was longer after the third treatment (p = 0.0003), whereas time to pain recurrence was similar across each of the successive treatments (p = 0.842). Complete or partial pain relief was achieved in 93.1% of patients after the third treatment. The maximum pain relief achieved after the third treatment was significantly better among patients with no prior percutaneous procedures (p = 0.0111) and patients with shorter durations of pain before initiation of GKRS therapy (p = 0.0449). New or progressive facial sensory dysfunction occurred in 29% of patients after the third GKRS treatment and was reported as bothersome in 14%. One patient developed facial twitching, while another experienced persistent lacrimation. No statistically significant predictors of adverse effects following the third treatment were found. Over a median of 39 months of follow-up, 77% of patients maintained complete or partial pain relief. Three patients underwent a fourth GKRS treatment, including one who ultimately received five treatments; all of them reported sustained pain relief at the extended follow-up.

CONCLUSIONS The authors describe the largest series to date of patients undergoing three or more GKRS treatments for refractory TN. A third treatment may produce outcomes similar to those of the first two treatments in terms of longterm pain relief, recurrence, and adverse effects.


First application of 7-T ultra–high field diffusion tensor imaging to detect altered microstructure of thalamic-somatosensory anatomy in trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 133:839–847, 2020

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a debilitating neurological disease that commonly results from neurovascular compression of the trigeminal nerve (CN V). Although the CN V has been extensively studied at the site of neurovascular compression, many pathophysiological factors remain obscure. For example, thalamic-somatosensory function is thought to be altered in TN, but the abnormalities are inadequately characterized. Furthermore, there are few studies using 7-T MRI to examine patients with TN. The purpose of the present study was to use 7-T MRI to assess microstructural alteration in the thalamic-somatosensory tracts of patients with TN by using ultra–high field MRI.

METHODS Ten patients with TN and 10 age- and sex-matched healthy controls underwent scanning using 7-T MRI with diffusion tensor imaging. Structural images were segmented with an automated algorithm to obtain thalamus and primary somatosensory cortex (S1). Probabilistic tractography was performed between the thalamus and S1, and the microstructure of the thalamic-somatosensory tracts was compared between patients with TN and controls.

RESULTS Fractional anisotropy of the thalamic-somatosensory tract ipsilateral to the site of neurovascular compression was reduced in patients (mean 0.43) compared with side-matched controls (mean 0.47, p = 0.01). The mean diffusivity was increased ipsilaterally in patients (mean 6.58 × 10 −4 mm 2 /second) compared with controls (mean 6.15 × 10 −4 mm 2 / second, p = 0.02). Radial diffusivity was increased ipsilaterally in patients (mean 4.91 × 10 −4 mm 2 /second) compared with controls (mean 4.44 × 10 −4 mm 2 /second, p = 0.01). Topographical analysis revealed fractional anisotropy reduction and diffusivity elevation along the entire anatomical S1 arc in patients with TN.

CONCLUSIONS The present study is the first to examine microstructural properties of the thalamic-somatosensory anatomy in patients with TN and to evaluate quantitative differences compared with healthy controls. The finding of reduced integrity of these white matter fibers provides evidence of microstructural alteration at the level of the thalamus and S1, and furthers the understanding of TN neurobiology.

Significance of degree of neurovascular compression in surgery for trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 133:411–416, 2020

The aim of this study was to identify preoperative imaging predictors of surgical success in patients with classic trigeminal neuralgia (cTN) undergoing microvascular decompression (MVD) via retrospective multivariate regression analysis.

METHODS All included patients met criteria for cTN and underwent preoperative MRI prior to MVD. MR images were blindly graded regarding the presence and severity (i.e., mild or severe) of neurovascular compression (NVC). All patients were contacted by telephone to determine their postoperative pain status.

RESULTS A total of 79 patients were included in this study. Sixty-two patients (78.5%) were pain-free without medication following MVD. The following findings were more commonly observed with the symptomatic nerve when compared to the contralateral asymptomatic nerve: NVC (any form), arterial compression alone, NVC along the proximal trigeminal nerve, and severe NVC (p values < 0.0001). The only imaging variable that was a statistically significant predictor of being pain-free without medication following MVD was severe NVC. Patients with severe NVC were 6.36 times more likely to be pain-free following MVD compared to those without severe NVC (p = 0.007).

CONCLUSIONS In patients with cTN undergoing MVD, severe NVC on preoperative MRI is a strong predictor of an excellent surgical outcome.


Ossification of the pterygoalar and pterygospinous ligaments: a computed tomography analysis of infratemporal fossa anatomical variants relevant to percutaneous trigeminal rhizotomy

J Neurosurg 132:1942–1951, 2020

Ossification of pterygoalar and pterygospinous ligaments traversing the superior aspect of the infratemporal fossa results in formation of osseous bars that can obstruct percutaneous needle access to the trigeminal ganglion through the foramen ovale (FO), interfere with lateral mandibular nerve block, and impede transzygomatic surgical approaches. Presence of these ligaments has been studied on dry skulls, but description of their radiological anatomy is scarce, in particular on cross-sectional imaging. The aim of this study was to describe visualization of pterygoalar and pterygospinous bars on computed tomography (CT) and to review their prevalence and clinical significance.

METHODS The authors retrospectively reviewed 200 helical sinonasal CT scans by analyzing 0.75- to 1.0-mm axial images, maximum intensity projection (MIP) reconstructions, and volume rendered (VR) images, including views along the anticipated axis of the needle in percutaneous Hartel and submandibular approaches to the FO.

RESULTS Ossified pterygoalar and pterygospinous ligaments were readily identifiable on CT scans. An ossified pterygoalar ligament was demonstrated in 10 patients, including 1 individual with bilateral complete ossification (0.5%), 4 patients with unilateral complete ossification (2.0%), and 5 with incomplete unilateral ossification (2.5%). Nearly all patients with pterygoalar bars were male (90%, p < 0.01). An ossified pterygospinous ligament was seen in 35 patients, including 2 individuals with bilateral complete (1.0%), 8 with unilateral complete (4%), 8 with bilateral incomplete (4.0%), 12 with bilateral incomplete (6.0%) ossification, and 5 (2.5%) with mixed ossification (complete on one side and incomplete on the contralateral side). All pterygoalar bars interfered with a hypothetical needle access to the FO using the Hartel approach but not the submandibular approach. In contrast, 54% of complete and 24% of incomplete pterygospinous bars impeded the submandibular approach to the FO, without affecting the Hartel approach.

CONCLUSIONS This study provides the first detailed description of cross-sectional radiological and applied surgical anatomy of pterygoalar and pterygospinous bars. Our data are clinically useful during skull base imaging to predict potential obstacles to percutaneous cannulation of the FO and assist in the choice of approach, as these two variants differentially impede the Hartel and submandibular access routes. Our results can also be useful in planning surgical approaches to the skull base through the infratemporal fossa.



Alternative customized instrumentation and technique for percutaneous balloon compression rhizotomy for trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 132:1938–1941, 2020

Trigeminal neuralgia is a debilitating disease that can be treated effectively by a number of modalities. Percutaneous balloon compression rhizotomy of the gasserian ganglion is an important technique that can be offered as a primary or secondary strategy after failure of medical therapy. However, the commercial kit for this procedure was discontinued in the United States in early 2016 and therefore is not currently available. The authors describe a low-cost, effective solution for continuing to offer this procedure using equipment already available in most hospitals.

METHODS The authors provide a detailed equipment list with step-by-step instructions on how to prepare all the necessary items and perform a percutaneous balloon compression rhizotomy.

RESULTS The custom “homemade” kit and technique described have been utilized successfully since June 2016 in 34 patients. The kit is a low-cost alternative, and its application does not add any operative time beyond that required for the previously commercially available kit.

CONCLUSIONS Percutaneous balloon compression rhizotomy of the gasserian ganglion is an important technique that should be readily available to patients who are not medically fit for microvascular decompression and need immediate relief of their pain. The alternative kit described here can be assembled easily using equipment that is readily available in most hospitals.

Percutaneous glycerol rhizotomy for trigeminal neuralgia in patients with multiple sclerosis

J Neurosurg 132:1405–1413, 2020

The prevalence of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS-TN) is higher than in the general population (idiopathic TN [ITN]). Glycerol rhizotomy (GR) is a percutaneous lesioning surgery commonly performed for the treatment of medically refractory TN. While treatment for acute pain relief is excellent, long-term pain relief is poorer. The object of this study was to assess the efficacy of percutaneous retrogasserian GR for the treatment of MS-TN versus ITN.

METHODS A retrospective chart review was performed, identifying 219 patients who had undergone 401 GR procedures from 1983 to 2018 at a single academic institution. All patients were diagnosed with medically refractory MS-TN (182 procedures) or ITN (219 procedures). The primary outcome measures of interest were immediate pain relief and time to pain recurrence following initial and repeat GR procedures. Secondary outcomes included medication usage and presence of periprocedural hypesthesia.

RESULTS The initial pain-free response rate was similar between groups (p = 0.726): MS-TN initial GR 89.6%; MS-TN repeat GR 91.9%; ITN initial GR 89.6%; ITN repeat GR 87.0%. The median time to recurrence after initial GR was similar between MS-TN (2.7 ± 1.3 years) and ITN (2.1 ± 0.6 years) patients (p = 0.87). However, there was a statistically significant difference in the time to recurrence after repeat GR between MS-TN (2.3 ± 0.5 years) and ITN patients (1.2 ± 0.2 years; p < 0.05). The presence of periprocedural hypesthesia was highly predictive of pain-free survival (p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS Patients with MS-TN achieve meaningful pain relief following GR, with an efficacy comparable to that following GR in patients with ITN. Initial and subsequent GR procedures are equally efficacious.

Retrosigmoid approach for glycerin rhizotomy in the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia without overt arterial compression

J Neurosurg 132:1227–1233, 2020

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a neuropathic pain disorder characterized by severe, lancinating facial pain that is commonly treated with neuropathic medication, percutaneous rhizotomy, and/or microvascular decompression (MVD). Patients who are not found to have distinct arterial compression during MVD present a management challenge. In 2013, the authors reported on a small case series of such patients in whom glycerin was injected intraoperatively into the cisternal segment of the trigeminal nerve. The objective of the authors’ present study was to report their updated experience with this technique to further validate this novel approach.

METHODS The authors performed a retrospective analysis of data obtained in patients in whom glycerin was directly injected into the inferior third of the cisternal portion of the trigeminal nerve. Seventy-four patients, including 14 patients from the authors’ prior study, were identified, and demographic information, intraoperative findings, postoperative course, and complications were recorded. Fisher’s exact test, unpaired t-tests, and Kaplan-Meier survival curves using Mantel log-rank test were used to compare the 74 patients with a cohort of 476 patients who received standard MVD by the same surgeon.

RESULTS The 74 patients who underwent MVD and glycerin injection had an average follow-up of 19.1 ± 18.0 months, and the male/female ratio was 1:2.9. In 33 patients (44.6%), a previous intervention for TN had failed. On average, patients had an improvement in the Barrow Neurological Institute Pain Intensity score from 4.1 ± 0.4 before surgery to 2.1 ± 1.2 after surgery. Pain improvement after the surgery was documented in 95.9% of patients. Thirteen patients (17.6%) developed burning pain following surgery. Five patients developed complications (6.7%), including incisional infection, facial palsy, CSF leak, and hearing deficit, all of which were minor.

CONCLUSIONS Intraoperative injection of glycerin into the trigeminal nerve is a generally safe and potentially effective treatment for TN when no distinct site of arterial compression is identified during surgery or when decompression of the nerve is deemed to be inadequate.

Sex-dependent posterior fossa anatomical differences in trigeminal neuralgia patients with and without neurovascular compression: a volumetric MRI age- and sex-matched case-control study

J Neurosurg 132:631–638, 2020

The pathophysiology of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) in patients without neurovascular compression (NVC) is not completely understood. The objective of this retrospective study was to evaluate the hypothesis that TN patients without NVC differ from TN patient with NVC with respect to brain anatomy and demographic characteristics.

METHODS Six anatomical brain measurements from high-resolution brain MR images were tabulated; anterior-posterior (AP) prepontine cistern length, cerebellopontine angle (CPA) cistern volume, nerve-to-nerve distance, symptomatic nerve length, pons volume, and posterior fossa volume were assessed on OsiriX. Brain MRI anatomical measurements from 232 patients with either TN type 1 or TN type 2 (TN group) were compared with measurements obtained in 100 age- and sex-matched healthy controls (control group). Two-way ANOVA tests were conducted on the 6 measurements relative to group and NVC status. Bonferroni adjustments were used to correct for multiple comparisons. A nonhierarchical k-means cluster analysis was performed on the TN group using age and posterior fossa volume as independent variables.

RESULTS Within the TN group, females were found to be younger than males and less likely to have NVC. The odds ratio (OR) of females not having NVC compared to males was 2.7 (95% CI 1.3–5.5, p = 0.017). Patients younger than 30 years were much less likely to have NVC compared to older patients (OR 4.9, 95% CI 1.3–18.4, p = 0.017). The mean AP prepontine cistern length and symptomatic nerve length were smaller in the TN group than in the control group (5.3 vs 6.5 mm and 8.7 vs 9.7 mm, respectively; p < 0.001). The posterior fossa volume was significantly smaller in TN patients without NVC compared to those with NVC. A TN group cluster analysis suggested a sex-dependent difference that was not observed in those without NVC. Factorial ANOVA and post hoc testing found that findings in males without NVC were significantly different from those in controls or male TN patients with NVC and similar to those in females (female controls as well as female TN patients with or without NVC).

CONCLUSIONS Posterior fossa volume in males was larger than posterior fossa volume in females. This finding, along with the higher incidence of TN in females, suggests that smaller posterior fossa volume might be an independent factor in the pathophysiology of TN, which warrants further study.

Stereotactic Lesion in the Forel’s Field H: A Two-Years Prospective Open-Label Study on Motor and Nonmotor Symptoms, Neuropsychological Functions and Quality of Life in Parkinson Disease

Neurosurgery, Volume 85, Issue 4, October 2019, Pages E650–E659

Stereotactic lesion in the Forel’s field H (campotomy) was proposed in 1963 to treat Parkinson disease (PD) symptoms. Despite its rationale, very few data on this approach have emerged. Additionally, no study has assessed its effects on nonmotor symptoms, neuropsychological functions and quality of life.

OBJECTIVE: To provide a prospective 2-yr assessment of motor, nonmotor, neuropsychological and quality of life variables after unilateral campotomy.

METHODS: Twelve PD patients were prospectively evaluated using the Unified Parkinson’s Disease Rating Scale (UPDRS), the Dyskinesia Rating Scale and the Parkinson’s disease quality of life questionnaire (PDQ39) before campotomy, and after 6 and 24 mo. Nonmotor, neuropsychiatric, neuropsychological and quality of life variables were assessed. The impact of PD on global health was also rated.

RESULTS: A significant reduction in contralateral rest tremor (65.7%, P < .001), rigidity (87.8%, P < .001), bradykinesia (68%, P < .001) and axial symptoms (24.2%, P < .05) in offmedication condition led to a 43.9% reduction in UPSDRS III scores 2 yr after campotomy (P < .001). Gait improved by 31.9% (P < .05) and walking time to cover 7 m was reduced by 43.2% (P< .05). Pain decreased by 33.4% (P< .01), while neuropsychiatric and neuropsychological functions did not change. Quality of life improved by 37.8% (P < .05), in line with a 46.7% reduction of disease impact on global health (P < .001).

CONCLUSION: A significant 2-yr improvement of motor symptoms, gait performance and pain was obtained after unilateral campotomy without significant changes to cognition. Quality of life markedly improved in parallel with a significant reduction of PD burden on global health.

Early postsurgical diffusivity metrics for prognostication of long-term pain relief after Gamma Knife radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 131:539–548, 2019

Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) is an important treatment modality for trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Current longitudinal assessment after GKRS relies primarily on clinical diagnostic measures, which are highly limited in the prediction of long-term clinical benefit. An objective, noninvasive, predictive tool would be of great utility to advance the clinical management of patients. Using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), the authors’ aim was to determine whether early (6 months post-GKRS) target diffusivity metrics can be used to prognosticate long-term pain relief in patients with TN.

METHODS Thirty-seven patients with TN treated with GKRS underwent 3T MRI scans at 6 months posttreatment. Diffusivity metrics of fractional anisotropy, axial diffusivity, radial diffusivity, and mean diffusivity were extracted bilaterally from the radiosurgical target of the affected trigeminal nerve and its contralateral, unaffected nerve. Early (6 months post-GKRS) diffusivity metrics were compared with long-term clinical outcome. Patients were identified as long-term responders if they achieved at least 75% reduction in preoperative pain for 12 months or longer following GKRS.

RESULTS Trigeminal nerve diffusivity at 6 months post-GKRS was predictive of long-term clinical effectiveness, where long-term responders (n = 19) showed significantly lower fractional anisotropy at the radiosurgical target of their affected nerve compared to their contralateral, unaffected nerve and to nonresponders. Radial diffusivity and mean diffusivity, correlates of myelin alterations and inflammation, were also significantly higher in the affected nerve of long-term responders compared to their unaffected nerve. Nonresponders (n = 18) did not exhibit any characteristic diffusivity changes after GKRS.

CONCLUSIONS The authors demonstrate that early postsurgical target diffusivity metrics have a translational, clinical value and permit prediction of long-term pain relief in patients with TN treated with GKRS. Importantly, an association was found between the footprint of radiation and clinical effectiveness, where a sufficient level of microstructural change at the radiosurgical target is necessary for long-lasting pain relief. DTI can provide prognostic information that supplements clinical measures, and thus may better guide the postoperative assessment and clinical decision-making for patients with TN.

Pain-free and pain-controlled survival after sectioning the nervus intermedius in nervus intermedius neuralgia: a single-institution review

J Neurosurg 131:352–359, 2019

Nervus intermedius neuralgia (NIN) or geniculate neuralgia is a rare facial pain condition consisting of sharp, lancinating pain deep in the ear and can occur alongside trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Studies on the clinical presentation, intraoperative findings, and ultimately postoperative outcomes are extremely limited. The aim of this study was to examine the clinical presentation and surgical findings, and determine pain-free survival after sectioning of the nervus intermedius (NI).

METHODS The authors conducted a retrospective chart review and survey of patients who were diagnosed with NIN at one institution and who underwent neurosurgical interventions. Pain-free survival was determined through chart review and phone interviews using a modified facial pain and quality of life questionnaire and represented as Kaplan-Meier curves.

RESULTS The authors found 15 patients with NIN who underwent microsurgical intervention performed by two sur- geons from 2002 to 2016 at a single institution. Fourteen of these patients underwent sectioning of the NI, and 8 of 14 had concomitant TN. Five patients had visible neurovascular compression (NVC) of the NI by the anterior inferior cerebellar artery in most cases where NVC was found. The most common postoperative complaints were dizziness and vertigo, diplopia, ear fullness, tinnitus, and temporary facial nerve palsy. Thirteen of the 14 patients reportedly experienced pain relief immediately after surgery. The mean length of follow-up was 6.41 years (range 8 months to 14.5 years). Overall recurrence of any pain was 42% (6 of 14), and 4 patients (isolated NIN that received NI sectioning alone) reported their pain was the same or worse than before surgery at longest follow-up. The median pain-free survival was 4.82 years ± 14.85 months. The median pain-controlled survival was 6.22 years ± 15.78 months.

CONCLUSIONS In this retrospective review, sectioning of the NI produced no major complications, such as permanent facial weakness or deafness, and was effective for patients when performed in addition to other procedures. After sectioning of the NI, patients experienced 4.8 years pain free and experienced 6.2 years of less pain than before surgery. Alone, sectioning of the NI was not effective. The pathophysiology of NIN is not entirely understood. It appears that neurovascular compression plays only a minor role in the syndrome and there is a high degree of overlap with TN.

Microsurgical rhizotomy for trigeminal neuralgia in MS patients

J Neurosurg 130:1877–1888, 2019

Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS)–associated trigeminal neuralgia (TN) have higher recurrence and retreatment rates than non-MS patients. The optimal management strategy and role for microsurgical rhizotomy (MSR) for MS-TN remains to be determined. The aim of this study was to report time to treatment failure (TTF) and pain scores following MSR compared to percutaneous and Gamma Knife procedures.

METHODS Time to treatment failure was analyzed after MSR (n = 14) versus prior procedures (n = 53) among MS-TN patients. Kaplan-Meier curves and log-rank test were utilized to compare TTF after MSR versus prior procedures using the same cohort of patients as their own control group. Subsequent analysis compared TTF after MSR to TTF after 93 other procedures among a second cohort of 18 MS-TN patients not undergoing MSR. BNI pain scores were compared between MSR and other procedures among the MS-TN cohort using a chi-square test.

RESULTS TTF was significantly longer after MSR than after other procedures in the MSR cohort (median TTF 79 vs 10 months, respectively, p < 0.0001). Similarly, TTF was longer after MSR than after prior procedures in the non-MSR cohort (median TTF 79 vs 13 months, respectively, p < 0.001). MSR resulted in a higher proportion of excellent pain scores when compared to other procedures in the non-MSR cohort (77% vs 29%, p < 0.001). Probability of treatment survival was higher after MSR than after other procedures at all time points (3, 6, 12, 24, 36, and 48 months). There were no deaths or major complications after MSR.

CONCLUSIONS TTF was significantly longer following MSR compared to prior procedures in MS-TN patients. Additionally, a higher proportion of patients achieved excellent BNI pain scores after MSR.


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.


Contemporary concepts of pain surgery

J Neurosurg 130:1039–1049, 2019

Pain surgery is one of the historic foundations of neurological surgery. The authors present a review of contemporary concepts in surgical pain management, with reference to past successes and failures, what has been learned as a subspecialty over the past 50 years, as well as a vision for current and future practice.

This subspecialty confronts problems of cancer pain, nociceptive pain, and neuropathic pain. For noncancer pain, ablative procedures such as dorsal root entry zone lesions and rhizolysis for trigeminal neuralgia (TN) should continue to be practiced. Other procedures, such as medial thalamotomy, have not been proven effective and require continued study. Dorsal rhizotomy, dorsal root ganglionectomy, and neurotomy should probably be abandoned.

For cancer pain, cordotomy is an important and underutilized method for pain control. Intrathecal opiate administration via an implantable system remains an important option for cancer pain management.

While there are encouraging results in small case series, cingulotomy, hypophysectomy, and mesencephalotomy deserve further detailed analysis.

Electrical neuromodulation is a rapidly changing discipline, and new methods such as high-frequency spinal cord stimulation (SCS), burst SCS, and dorsal root ganglion stimulation may or may not prove to be more effective than conventional SCS. Despite a history of failure, deep brain stimulation for pain may yet prove to be an effective therapy for specific pain conditions. Peripheral nerve stimulation for conditions such as occipital neuralgia and trigeminal neuropathic pain remains an option, although the quality of outcomes data is a challenge to these applications. Based on the evidence, motor cortex stimulation should be abandoned. TN is a mainstay of the surgical treatment of pain, particularly as new evidence and insights into TN emerge.

Pain surgery will continue to build on this heritage, and restorative procedures will likely find a role in the armamentarium. The challenge for the future will be to acquire higher-level evidence to support the practice of surgical pain management.



Tentorial sling for microvascular decompression in patients with trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurosurg 130:1315–1320, 2019

Trigeminal neuralgia is a debilitating pain disorder most often caused by arterial compression of the trigeminal nerve, although there are other etiologies. Microvascular decompression (MVD) remains the most definitive treatment for this disorder, with cure rates reported between 60% and 80%. Traditional MVD techniques involve a retrosigmoid craniotomy with placement of an inert foreign material, such as Teflon, between the nerve and compressive vessel. Recurrence of trigeminal neuralgia after MVD has been associated with vessel migration, adhesion formation, and arterial pulsation against the Teflon abutting the nerve. Additionally, foreign materials such as Teflon have been reported to trigger inflammatory responses, resulting in recurrence of trigeminal pain. An alternative method for decompression involves the use of a sling to transpose the compressive vessel away from the nerve. Results of various sling techniques as a decompressive strategy are limited to small series and case reports. In this study, the authors present their experience utilizing a tentorial sling for MVD in patients with trigeminal neuralgia.

METHODS Institutional review board approval was obtained in order to contact patients who underwent MVD for trigeminal neuralgia via the tentorial sling technique. Clinical outcomes were assessed utilizing the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) pain intensity score immediately after surgery and at the time of the study.

RESULTS The tentorial sling technique was performed in 45 patients undergoing MVD for trigeminal neuralgia. In 41 of these patients, this procedure was their first decompressive surgery. Immediate postoperative relief of pain (BNI score I) was achieved in 80% of patients undergoing their first decompressive procedure. At last follow-up, 73% of these patients remained pain free. Three patients experienced recurrent trigeminal pain, with surgical exploration demonstrating an intact tentorial sling. The complication rate was 6.6%.

CONCLUSIONS Transposition techniques for MVD have been described previously in small series and case reports. This study represents the largest experience in which the utilization of a tentorial sling for MVD in patients with trigeminal neuralgia is described. The technique represents a novel method for decompression of the trigeminal nerve by transposition of the offending vessel without the use of foreign material. Although the authors’ preliminary results parallel the historical cure rate, further outcome data are required to assess long-term durability of this method.


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