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.
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.
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).
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.