Tumors compressing the trigeminal nerve can cause facial pain, numbness, or paresthesias. Limited data exist describing how these symptoms change after resection and what factors predict symptom improvement. The objective of this study was to report trigeminal pain and sensory outcomes after tumor resection and identify factors predicting postoperative symptom improvement.
This retrospective study included patients with tumors causing facial pain, numbness, or paresthesias who underwent resection. Trigeminal schwannomas were excluded. Logistic regression, recursive partitioning, and time-to-event analyses were used to report outcomes and identify variables associated with facial sensory outcomes.
Eighty-six patients met inclusion criteria, and the median follow-up was 3.1 years; 63 patients (73%) had meningiomas and 23 (27%) had vestibular schwannomas (VSs). Meningioma patients presented with pain, numbness, and paresthesias in 56%, 76%, and 25% of cases, respectively, compared with 9%, 91%, and 39%, respectively, for patients with VS. Most meningioma patients had symptoms for less than 1 year (60%), whereas the majority of VS patients had symptoms for 1–5 years (59%). The median meningioma and VS diameters were 3.0 and 3.4 cm, respectively. For patients with meningiomas, gross-total resection (GTR) was achieved in 27% of patients, near-total resection (NTR) in 29%, and subtotal resection (STR) in 44%. For patients with VS, GTR was achieved in 9%, NTR in 30%, and STR in 61%. Pain improved immediately after tumor resection in 81% of patients and in 92% of patients by 6 weeks. Paresthesias improved immediately in 80% of patients, increasing to 84% by 6 weeks. Numbness improved more slowly, with 52% of patients improving immediately, increasing to 79% by 2 years. Pain recurred in 22% of patients with meningiomas and 0% of patients with VSs. After resection, the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) facial pain intensity score improved in 73% of patients. The tumor diameter significantly predicted improvement in BNI score (OR 0.47/cm larger, 95% CI 0.22–0.99; p = 0.047). Complete decompression of the trigeminal nerve was associated with qualitative improvement in pain (p = 0.037) and decreased pain recurrence (OR 0.08, 95% CI 0.01–0.67; p = 0.024).
Most patients with facial sensory symptoms caused by meningiomas or VSs experienced improvement after resection. Surgery led to immediate and sustained improvement in pain and paresthesias, whereas numbness was slower to improve. Patients with smaller tumors and complete decompression of the trigeminal nerve were more likely to experience improvement in facial pain.