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Microvascular decompression for developmental venous anomaly causing hemifacial spasm: illustrative case

Margaret Tugend and Raymond F Sekula Jr.

BACKGROUND

Developmental venous anomaly (DVA) is a rare cause of hemifacial spasm (HFS). The treatment of HFS caused by a DVA varies in the literature and includes medication management, botulinum toxin injections, and microvascular decompression (MVD).

OBSERVATIONS

A 64-year-old woman presented with right-sided HFS. Preoperative magnetic resonance imaging showed a DVA in the right inferior pons, with an enlarged segment compressing the facial nerve at its root detachment point prior to drainage into the superior petrosal sinus. MVD was performed, and the facial nerve was decompressed without sacrifice of the vein. Immediately following the procedure, the patient had significantly reduced spasms. The patient became spasm-free 3 months after MVD and maintained spasm freedom for 3 months. Six months after MVD, the patient had a partial return of spasms. At 8 months, the patient continued to have reduced and intermittent spasms in the right orbicularis oculi muscle.

LESSONS

MVD for HFS caused by a DVA is a safe procedure and can be effective at reducing spasm frequency and severity.

Open access

Trigeminal neuralgia induced by brainstem infarction treated with pontine descending tractotomy: illustrative case

Rachyl M. Shanker, Miri Kim, Chloe Verducci, Elhaum G. Rezaii, Kerry Steed, Atul K. Mallik, and Douglas E. Anderson

BACKGROUND

While cases of trigeminal neuralgia induced by a brainstem infarct have been reported, the neurosurgical literature lacks clear treatment recommendations in this subpopulation.

OBSERVATIONS

The authors present the first case report of infarct-related trigeminal neuralgia treated with pontine descending tractotomy that resulted in durable pain relief after multiple failed surgical interventions, including previous microvascular decompressions and stereotactic radiosurgery. A neuronavigated pontine descending tractotomy of the spinal trigeminal tract was performed and resulted in successful pain relief for a 50-month follow-up period.

LESSONS

While many cases of ischemic brainstem lesions are caused by acute stroke, the authors assert that cerebral small vessel disease also plays a role in certain cases and that the relationship between these chronic ischemic brainstem lesions and trigeminal neuralgia is more likely to be overlooked. Furthermore, neurovascular compression may obscure the causative mechanism of infarct-related trigeminal neuralgia, leading to unsuccessful decompressive surgeries in cases in which neurovascular compression may be noncontributory to pain symptomatology. Pontine descending tractotomy may be beneficial in select patients and can be performed either alone or concurrently with microvascular decompression in cases in which the interplay between ischemic lesion and neurovascular compression in the pathophysiology of disease is not clear.