Top 25 Cited Gamma Knife® Surgery Articles — Trigeminal Neuralgia

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Douglas Kondziolka, Oscar Zorro, Javier Lobato-Polo, Hideyuki Kano, Thomas J. Flannery, John C. Flickinger and L. Dade Lunsford

Object

Trigeminal neuralgia pain causes severe disability. Stereotactic radiosurgery is the least invasive surgical option for patients with trigeminal neuralgia. Since different medical and surgical options have different rates of pain relief and morbidity, it is important to evaluate longer-term outcomes.

Methods

The authors retrospectively reviewed outcomes in 503 medically refractory patients with trigeminal neuralgia who underwent Gamma Knife surgery (GKS). The median patient age was 72 years (range 26–95 years). Prior surgery had failed in 205 patients (43%). The GKS typically was performed using MR imaging guidance, a single 4-mm isocenter, and a maximum dose of 80 Gy.

Results

Patients were evaluated for up to 16 years after GKS; 107 patients had > 5 years of follow-up. Eighty-nine percent of patients achieved initial pain relief that was adequate or better, with or without medications (Barrow Neurological Institute [BNI] Scores I–IIIb). Significant pain relief (BNI Scores I–IIIa) was achieved in 73% at 1 year, 65% at 2 years, and 41% at 5 years. Including Score IIIb (pain adequately controlled with medication), a BNI score of I–IIIb was found in 80% at 1 year, 71% at 3 years, 46% at 5 years, and 30% at 10 years. A faster initial pain response including adequate and some pain relief was seen in patients with trigeminal neuralgia without additional symptoms, patients without prior surgery, and patients with a pain duration of ≤ 3 years. One hundred ninety-three (43%) of 450 patients who achieved initial pain relief reported some recurrent pain 3–144 months after initial relief (median 50 months). Factors associated with earlier pain recurrence that failed to maintain adequate or some pain relief were trigeminal neuralgia with additional symptoms and ≥ 3 prior failed surgical procedures. Fifty-three patients (10.5%) developed new or increased subjective facial paresthesias or numbness and 1 developed deafferentation pain; these symptoms resolved in 17 patients. Those who developed sensory loss had better long-term pain control (78% at 5 years).

Conclusions

Gamma Knife surgery proved to be safe and effective in the treatment of medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia and is of value for initial or recurrent pain management. Despite the goal of minimizing sensory loss with this procedure, some sensory loss may improve long-term outcomes. Pain relapse is amenable to additional GKS or another procedure.

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Anil A. Dhople, Jared R. Adams, William W. Maggio, Shahid A. Naqvi, William F. Regine and Young Kwok

Object

Few long-term studies of Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) for trigeminal neuralgia (TN) exist. The authors report their long-term experience with the use of GKS in a previously reported cohort of patients with TN that has now been followed since 1996.

Methods

One hundred twelve patients with TN were treated with GKS at the University of Maryland between June 1996 and July 2001. Of these, 67% had no invasive operations for TN prior to GKS, 13% had 1, 4% had 2, and 16% had ≥ 3. The right side was affected in 56% of cases, predominantly involving V2 (26%), V3 (24%), or a combination of both (18%) branches. The median age at diagnosis was 56 years, and median age at GKS was 64 years. The median prescription dose of 75 Gy (range 70–80 Gy) was delivered to the involved trigeminal nerve root entry zone. The authors assessed the degree of pain before and after GKS by using the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) pain scale.

Results

In total, 102 patients took the survey at least once, for a response rate of 91%. Although not found to alter the conclusions of this study, 7 cases of atypical TN were found and these patients were removed, for a total of 95 cases herein analyzed. The median follow-up was 5.6 years (range 13–115 months). Before GKS, 88% of patients categorized their pain as BNI IV or V (inadequate control or severe pain on medication), whereas the remainder described their pain as BNI III (some pain, but controlled on medication). After GKS, 64% reported a BNI score of I (no pain, no medications), 5% had BNI II (no pain, still on medication), 12% had BNI III, and 19% reported a BNI score of IV or V. The median time to response was 2 weeks (range 0–12 weeks) and the median response duration was 32 months (range 0–112 months). Eighty-one percent reported initial pain relief, and actuarial rates of freedom from treatment failure at 1, 3, 5, and 7 years were 60, 41, 34, and 22%, respectively. Response duration was significantly better for those who had no prior invasive treatment versus those in whom a previous surgical intervention had failed (32 vs 21 months, p < 0.02). New bothersome facial numbness was reported in 6% of cases.

Conclusions

This study represents one of the longest reported median follow-up periods and actuarial results for a cohort of patients with classic TN treated with GKS. Although GKS achieves excellent rates of initial pain relief, these results suggest a steady rate of late failure, particularly among patients who had undergone prior invasive surgical treatment. Despite a higher than expected recurrence rate, GKS remains a viable treatment option, particularly for patients who have had no prior invasive procedures. Patients with recurrences can still be offered salvage therapy with either repeat GKS, microvascular decompression, or rhizotomy.

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Raymond F. Sekula Jr., Edward M. Marchan, Lynn H. Fletcher, Kenneth F. Casey and Peter J. Jannetta

Object

Although microvascular decompression (MVD) for patients with medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is widely accepted as the treatment of choice, other “second-tier” treatments are frequently offered to elderly patients due to concerns regarding fitness for surgery. The authors sought to determine the safety and effectiveness of MVD for TN in patients older than 75 years of age.

Methods

The authors performed a retrospective review of medical records and conducted follow-up telephone interviews with the patients. The outcome data from 25 MVD operations for TN performed in 25 patients with a mean age of 79.4 years (range 75–88 years) were compared with those of a control group of 25 younger patients with a mean age of 42.3 years (range 17–50 years) who underwent MVDs during the same 30-month period from July 2000 to December 2003.

Results

Initial pain relief was achieved in 96% of the patients in both groups (p = 1.0). There were no operative deaths in either group. After an average follow-up period of 44 and 52 months, 78 and 72% of patients in the elderly and control groups, respectively, remained pain free without medication (p = 0.74).

Conclusions

Microvascular decompression is an effective treatment for elderly patients with TN. The authors' experience suggests that the rate of complications and death after MVD for TN in elderly patients is no different from the rate in younger patients.

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Christopher J. Balamucki, Volker W. Stieber, Thomas L. Ellis, Stephen B. Tatter, Allan F. DeGuzman, Kevin P. McMullen, James Lovato, Edward G. Shaw, Kenneth E. Ekstrand, J. Daniel Bourland, Michael T. Munley, Michael Robbins and Charles Branch

Object

Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) is a treatment option for patients with refractory typical trigeminal neuralgia (TN), TN with atypical features, and atypical types of facial pain. The Gamma Knife’s 201 60Co sources decay with a half-life of 5.26 years. The authors examined whether the decrease in dose rate over 4.6 years between Co source replacements affected the control rates of facial pain in patients undergoing GKS.

Methods

The authors collected complete follow-up data on 239 of 326 GKS procedures performed in patients with facial pain. Patients were classified by their type of pain. The isocenter of a 4-mm collimator helmet was targeted at the proximal trigeminal nerve root, and the dose (80–90 Gy) was prescribed at the 100% isodose line. Patients reported the amount of pain control following radiosurgery by answering a standardized questionnaire.

Eighty percent of patients experienced greater than 50% pain relief, and 56% of patients experienced complete pain relief after GKS. Neither dose rate nor treatment time was significantly associated with either the control rate or degree of pain relief. A significant association between the type of facial pain and the pain control rate after GKS was observed (p < 0.001; Pearson chi-square test).

In their statistical analysis, the authors accounted for changes in prescription dose over time to prevent the dose rate from being a confounding variable. There was no observable effect of the dose rate or of the treatment duration within the typical period to source replacement.

Conclusions

Patients with facial pain appear to receive consistent treatment with GKS at any time during the first half-life of the Co sources.

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Jean Régis, Philippe Metellus, Motohiro Hayashi, Philippe Roussel, Anne Donnet and Françoise Bille-Turc

Object

Stereotactic radiosurgery is an alternative to conventional surgery for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia. The authors conducted a prospective evaluation of the safety and efficacy of this method in a large series of patients.

Methods

A total of 100 patients presenting with trigeminal neuralgia were treated and followed up for a minimum of 12 months. The mean age was 68.2 years; 54 patients were male, and 46 were female. Seven had a history of multiple sclerosis, and 42 had already received conventional surgical treatment for trigeminal neuralgia. The intervention consisted of gamma knife surgery to the retrogasserian cisternal portion of the fifth cranial nerve. The median dose used at the maximum was 85 Gy (range 70–90 Gy). The number and intensity of pain attacks were recorded by the patient from 3 months before radiosurgery to a minimum of 12 months after treatment. Before and a minimum of 12 months after treatment, the patient completed a quality-of-life questionnaire. Neurological examination and quantitative sensory testing to evaluate sensory perception were performed by an independent neurologist over this same time period.

At the last visit 83 of 100 patients were reported to be pain free. Fifty-eight of these 83 patients had stopped taking medication during the study. All quality-of-life parameters were improved (p < 0.001). Six patients reported facial paresthesia, and four patients reported hypesthesia. These symptoms were classified as mild. None of the complications reported for other techniques were observed.

Conclusions

Radiosurgery is a safe and effective alternative treatment for trigeminal neuralgia and is associated with a particularly low rate of hypesthesia.

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Jason Sheehan, Hung-Chuan Pan, Matei Stroila and Ladislau Steiner

Object. Microvascular decompression (MVD) and percutaneous ablation surgery have historically been the treatments of choice for medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Gamma knife surgery (GKS) has been used as an alternative, minimally invasive treatment in TN. In the present study, the authors evaluated the long-term results of GKS in the treatment of TN.

Methods. From 1996 to 2003, 151 cases of TN were treated with GKS. In this group, radiosurgery was performed once in 136 patients, twice in 14 patients, and three times in one patient. The types of TN were as follows: 122 patients with typical TN, three with atypical TN, four with multiple sclerosis—associated TN, and seven with TN and a history of a cavernous sinus tumor. In each case, the chosen radiosurgical target was located 2 to 4 mm anterior to the entry of the trigeminal nerve into the pons. The maximal radiation doses ranged from 50 to 90 Gy. The median age of the patients was 68 years (range 22–90 years), and the median time from diagnosis to GKS was 72 months (range 1–276 months). The median follow up was 19 months (range 2–96 months). Clinical outcomes and postradiosurgical magnetic resonance (MR) imaging studies were analyzed. Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed to evaluate factors that correlated with a favorable, pain-free outcome.

The mean time to relief of pain was 24 days (range 1–180 days). Forty-seven, 45, and 34% of patients were pain free without medication at the 1-, 2-, and 3-year follow ups, respectively. Ninety, 77, and 70% of patients experienced some improvement in pain at the 1-, 2-, and 3-year follow ups, respectively. Thirty-three (27%) of 122 patients with initial improvement subsequently experienced pain recurrence a median of 12 months (range 2–34 months) post-GKS. Among those whose symptoms recurred, 14 patients underwent additional GKS, six MVD, four glycerol injection, and one patient a percutaneous radiofrequency rhizotomy. Twelve patients (9%) suffered the onset of new facial numbness post-GKS. Changes on MR images post-GKS were noted in nine patients (7%). On univariate analysis, right-sided neuralgia (p = 0.0002) and a previous neurectomy (p = 0.04) correlated with a pain-free outcome; on multivariate analysis, both right-sided neuralgia (p = 0.032) and patient age (p = 0.05) were statistically significant. New onset of facial numbness following GKS correlated with undergoing more than one GKS (p = 0.002).

Conclusions. At the last follow up, GKS effected pain relief in 44% of patients. Some degree of pain improvement at 3 years post-GKS was noted in 70% of patients with TN. Although less effective than MVD, GKS remains a reasonable treatment option for those unwilling or unable to undergo more invasive surgical approaches and offers a low risk of side effects.

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Rabih G. Tawk, Mary Duffy-Fronckowiak, Bryan E. Scott, Ronald A. Alberico, Aidnag Z. Diaz, Matthew B. Podgorsak, Robert J. Plunkett and Robert A. Fenstermaker

Object. The purpose of this study was to assess the durability and completeness of pain relief in patients treated using stereotactic gamma knife surgery (GKS) for trigeminal neuralgia (TN).

Methods. Thirty-eight patients with refractory TN were treated with stereotactic GKS. All patients received a prescription radiation dose of 35, 40, or 45 Gy to the 50% isodose surface through a 4-mm collimator helmet. The group was assessed regularly based on physician-directed interviews for a median follow up of 24 months (range 6–27 months). Pain relief was classified as excellent (no pain without medication), good (well-controlled pain with continued medication), fair (decreased but residual pain with continued medication), or poor (unimproved or increased pain with the same or increased medication).

Three months after treatment, pain relief was good or excellent in 71% of patients. By 24 months post-GKS, 50% of the original cohort had poor pain relief, 21% continued to have either excellent or good relief, 3% had fair relief, and 26% had not reached the 24-month follow up. Based on their status at the last follow up, 29% of patients had excellent and 16% had good pain relief. Thirty-seven percent experienced facial numbness, which was dose related. In addition, there was a significantly higher rate of complete pain relief in patients who had facial numbness following treatment (p = 0.003).

Conclusions. Stereotactic GKS is an effective treatment in patients with TN; however, the durability of pain relief and the time to treatment response are limiting factors. As with other types of ablative treatment, facial numbness is strongly associated with better treatment response.

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Tracy E. Alpert, Chung T. Chung, Lisa T. Mitchell, Charles J. Hodge, Craig T. Montgomery, Jeffrey A. Bogart, Daniel Y-J. Kim, Danel A. Bassano and Seung S. Hahn

Object. The authors sought to evaluate the initial response of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) to gamma knife surgery (GKS) based on the number of shots delivered and radiation dose.

Methods. Between September 1998 and September 2003, some 63 patients with TN refractory to medical or surgical management underwent GKS at Upstate Medical University. Ten patients had multiple sclerosis and 25 patients had undergone prior invasive treatment. Gamma knife surgery was delivered to the trigeminal nerve root entry zone in one shot in 27 patients or two shots in 36 patients. The radiation dose was escalated to less than or equal to 80 Gy in 20 patients, 85 Gy in 21 patients, and greater than or equal to 90 Gy in 22 patients. Pain before and after GKS was assessed using the Barrow Neurological Institute Pain Scale and the improvement score was analyzed as a function of dose grouping and number of shots.

Sixty patients were available for evaluation, with an initial overall and complete response rate of 90% and 27%, respectively. There was a greater improvement score for patients who were treated with two shots compared with one shot, mean 2.83 compared with 1.72 (p < 0.001). There was an increased improvement in score at each dose escalation level: less than or equal to 80 Gy (p = 0.017), 85 Gy (p < 0.001), and greater than or equal to 90 Gy (p < 0.001). Linear regression analysis also indicated that there was a greater response with an increased dose (p = 0.021). Patients treated with two shots were more likely to receive a higher dose (p < 0.001). There were no severe complications. Five patients developed mild facial numbness.

Conclusions. Gamma knife surgery is an effective therapy for TN. Initial response rates appear to correlate with the number of shots and dose.