Object. The author presents a large series of patients with idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia (TN) who were treated with gamma knife surgery (GKS), at a maximum dose of 75 to 76.8 Gy, and followed up in a nearly uniform manner for up to 4.6 years.
Methods. Two hundred ninety-three patients were treated and followed up for at least 6 months (range 0.4–4.6 years, median 1.9 years). At the final follow-up review, there was complete (100%) pain relief without medicines in 64 patients (21.8%), 90% or greater relief with or without small doses of medicines in 86 (29.4%), between 75 and 89% relief in 31 (10.6%), between 50 and 74% relief in 19 (6.5%), and less than 50% relief in 23 patients (7.8%). Recurrent pain requiring a second procedure occurred in 70 patients (23.9%). Kaplan—Meier analysis showed that 100%, 90% or greater, and 50% or greater pain relief was obtained and maintained for 3.5 to 4.1 years in 5.6 , 23.7, and 50.4% patients, respectively. Of 31 patients who described pain relief ranging from 75 to 89%, 80% of patients described it as good and 10% as excellent; of 17 patients who reported between 50 and 74% pain relief, 53% described it as good and none as excellent (p = 0.014). Dysesthesia scores greater than 5 (scale of 0–10, in which a score of 10 represents excruciating pain) occurred in four (3.2%) of 126 patients who had not undergone prior surgery; all these patients obtained either good or excellent relief from TN pain. There were 36 patients in whom the TN had atypical features; these patients were less likely to attain at least 50% or at least 90% pain relief compared with those without atypical TN features (p = 0.001).
Conclusions. Gamma knife surgery is a safe and effective way to relieve TN. Patients who attain between 75 and 89% pain relief are much more likely to describe this outcome as good or excellent than those who attain between 50 and 74% pain relief.