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Gamma Knife radiosurgery for cluster-tic syndrome unresponsive to medical treatment: illustrative case

Lina R. Barzaghi, Edoardo Pompeo, Luigi Albano, Antonella Del Vecchio, and Pietro Mortini


Cluster-tic syndrome is a disorder characterized by the coexistence of symptoms related to both cluster headache and trigeminal neuralgia. Etiopathogenesis is not yet well defined. Medical treatment, including drugs for both cluster headache and trigeminal neuralgia, is the first therapeutic choice, whereas more invasive treatments are indicated in the case of pharmacological therapy failure or in the presence of drug side effects. To date, no randomized and/or large cohort trials describing Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) for cluster-tic syndrome are available, probably due to the syndrome’s rarity.


The authors describe the case of a 76-year-old woman with refractory cluster-tic syndrome who underwent GKRS with double target (the retrogasserian portion of the trigeminal nerve and the sphenopalatine ganglion). The Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) of pain and the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) pain intensity score before treatment were 7 (up to 10 during paroxysmal pain attacks) and V, respectively. At last follow-up, 24 months after GKRS, the patient had discontinued her pain medications and NRS and BNI pain scores were 1 and I, respectively. No trigeminal sensory disorders were reported.


The present case shows that GKRS, in selected cases, could be an effective treatment in patients with refractory cluster-tic syndrome.