Top 25 Cited Gamma Knife® Surgery Articles - Trigeminal Neuralgia

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Bruce E. Pollock, Loi K. Phuong, Deborah A. Gorman, Robert L. Foote and Scott L. Stafford

Object. Each year a greater number of patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) undergo radiosurgery, including a large number of patients who are candidates for microvascular decompression (MVD).

Methods. The case characteristics and outcomes of 117 consecutive patients who underwent radiosurgery were retrieved from a prospectively maintained database. The mean patient age was 67.8 years; and the majority (58%) of patients had undergone surgery previously. The dependent variable for all analyses of facial pain was complete pain relief without medication (excellent outcome). Median follow-up duration was 26 months (range 1–48 months). The actuarial rate of achieving and maintaining an excellent outcome was 57% and 55% at 1 and 3 years, respectively, after radiosurgery. A greater percentage of patients who had not previously undergone surgery achieved and maintained excellent outcomes (67% at 1 and 3 years) than that of patients who had undergone prior surgery (51% and 47% at 1 and 3 years, respectively; relative risk [RR] = 1.77, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.01–3.13, p = 0.04). New persistent trigeminal dysfunction was noted in 43 patients (37%). Tolerable numbness or paresthesias occurred in 29 patients (25%), whereas bothersome dysesthesias developed in 14 patients (12%). Only a radiation dose of 90 Gy correlated with new trigeminal deficits or dysesthesias (RR = 3.10, 95% CI 1.64–5.81, p < 0.001). Excellent outcomes in patients with new trigeminal dysfunction were achieved and maintained at rates of 76% and 74% at 1 and 3 years, respectively, after radiosurgery, compared with respective rates of 46% and 42% in patients who did not experience postradiosurgery trigeminal dysfunction (RR = 4.53, 95% CI 2.03–9.95, p < 0.01).

Conclusions. Radiosurgical treatment provides complete pain relief for the majority of patients with idiopathic TN. There is a strong correlation between the development of new facial sensory loss and achievement and maintenance of pain relief after this procedure. Because the long-term results of radiosurgery still remain unknown, MVD should continue to be the primary operation for medically fit patients with TN.

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Bruce E. Pollock, Robert L. Foote, Scott L. Stafford, Michael J. Link, Deborah A. Gorman and Paula J. Schomberg

Object. Gamma knife radiosurgery (GKS) is being increasing performed in the management of patients with medically unresponsive trigeminal neuralgia. The authors report the results of repeated GKS in patients with recurrent facial pain after their initial procedure.

Methods. Between April 1997 and December 1999, 100 patients with idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia underwent GKS at the authors' center. To date, 26 patients have required additional surgery because GKS provided no significant pain relief (15 patients) or because they had recurrent facial pain (11 patients). Ten of these patients underwent repeated GKS at a median of 13 months (range 4–27 months). All patients undergoing repeated GKS had a significant reduction in their facial pain after the first procedure (eight were pain free); no patient developed facial numbness or paresthesias. Initially, nine of 10 patients became pain free 1 to 4 weeks following repeated GKS. At a median follow up of 15 months (range 3–32 months), eight patients remained pain free and required no medication. All eight patients with persistent pain relief developed minor neurological dysfunction after repeated GKS (six patients had facial numbness and two had paresthesias).

Conclusions. Repeated GKS can be associated with a high rate of pain relief for patients with trigeminal neuralgia who experienced a significant reduction in their facial pain after the first operation. However, every patient with sustained pain relief after the second operation also developed some degree of trigeminal dysfunction. These findings of improved pain relief for patients who develop facial numbness after GKS for trigeminal neuralgia support the experimental data currently available.