Gamma knife radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia associated with multiple sclerosis

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  • 1 St. Joseph's Hospital and Barrow Neurological Institute, Departments of Radiation Oncology and Neurosurgery, Foundation for Cancer Research and Education, Arizona Oncology Services, Phoenix, Arizona
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Object. The authors assessed the efficacy and complications from gamma knife radiosurgery (GKS) for multiple sclerosis (MS)-associated trigeminal neuralgia (TN).

Methods. There were 15 patients with MS-associated TN (MS—TN). Treatment involved three sequential protocols, 70 to 90-Gy maximum dose, using a single 4-mm isocenter targeting the ipsilateral trigeminal nerve at its junction with the pons with the 50% isodose. Pain was appraised by each patient by using Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) Scores I through IV: I, no pain; II, occasional pain not requiring medication; IIIa, no pain but continued medication; IIIb, some pain, controlled with medication; IV, some pain, not controlled with medication; and V, severe pain/no pain relief.

With a mean follow up of 17 months (range 6–38 months), 12 (80%) of 15 patients experienced pain relief. Three patients (20%) reported no relief (BNI Score V). For responders, the mean latency from treatment to the onset of pain relief was 13 days (range 1–61 days). Maximal relief was achieved after a mean latency of 56 days (range 1–157 days). Five patients underwent a second GKS after a mean interval of 534 days (range 231–946 days). The mean maximum dose at this second treatment was 48 Gy. The target was unchanged from the first treatment. All five patients who underwent repeated GKS improved. Complications were limited to delayed facial hypesthesias. Two (13%) of 15 patients experienced onset of numbness after the first GKS, as well as two of five patients following a second GKS. The patients found this mild and not bothersome. Each patient who developed hypesthesias also experienced complete pain relief.

Conclusions. Gamma knife radiosurgery is an effective treatment for MS—TN. Radiosurgery carries an acceptable small risk of mild facial hypesthesias, and hypesthesia appears predictive of a favorable outcome.

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