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  • Author or Editor: Peter J. Jannetta x
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Mark E. Linskey, Hae Dong Jho and Peter J. Jannetta

✓ Thirty-one (2%) of 1404 consecutive patients with typical trigeminal neuralgia who underwent microvascular decompression between 1972 and 1993 were found to have vascular compression by the vertebral artery (VA) or the basilar artery (BA). Compared to the remaining 1373 patients, this subgroup was older (mean age 62 vs. 55 years, p < 0.001), was predominantly male (68% vs. 39%, p < 0.002), demonstrated left-sided predominance (65% vs. 39%, p < 0.002), was more likely to be hypertensive (65% vs. 18%, p < 0.001), and was more likely to have ipsilateral hemifacial spasm (16% vs. 0.6%, p < 0.001). The trigeminal nerve was compressed by the VA in 18 cases (the VA alone in three and the VA plus other vessels in 15), the BA in 12 cases (the BA alone in four and the BA plus other vessels in eight), and the vertebrobasilar junction in one case. Twenty-nine of the 31 patients underwent vascular decompression of the trigeminal nerve, one had a complete trigeminal root section, and one underwent partial root section with vascular decompression of the remaining nerve.

All 31 patients were pain-free, off medication immediately after surgery, and this pain-free, medication-free status was maintained at 1 year after surgery in 96% of cases, at 3 years in 92%, and at 10 years in 86%, based on life-table analysis. Minor trigeminal hypesthesia/hypalgesia was present preoperatively in 52%. New or worsened minor hypesthesia/hypalgesia developed in 41% of patients, while transient diplopia as well as hearing loss developed in 23% and 13% in the overall series, respectively. No patient developed major trigeminal sensory loss or masseter weakness after vascular decompression alone. There was no operative mortality. Vascular decompression is an effective treatment for patients with trigeminal neuralgia who have vertebrobasilar compression of the trigeminal nerve. Patients should be warned that decompression of a tortuous vertebrobasilar system carries a higher risk of mild trigeminal dysfunction, diplopia, and hearing loss than standard microvascular decompression.

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Fred G. Barker II, Peter J. Jannetta, Ramesh P. Babu, Spiros Pomonis, David J. Bissonette and Hae Dong Jho

✓ During a 20-year period, 26 patients with typical symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia were found to have posterior fossa tumors at operation. These cases included 14 meningiomas, eight acoustic neurinomas, two epidermoid tumors, one angiolipoma, and one ependymoma. The median patient age was 60 years and 69% of the patients were women. Sixty-five percent of the symptoms were left sided. The median preoperative duration of symptoms was 5 years. The distribution of pain among the three divisions of the trigeminal nerve was similar to that found in patients with trigeminal neuralgia who did not have tumors; however, more divisions tended to be involved in the tumor patients. The mean postoperative follow-up period was 9 years.

At operation, the root entry zone of the trigeminal nerve was examined for vascular cross-compression in 21 patients. Vessels compressing the nerve at the root entry zone were observed in all patients examined. Postoperative pain relief was frequent and long lasting. Using Kaplan—Meier methods the authors estimated excellent relief in 81% of the patients 10 years postoperatively, with partial relief in an additional 4%.

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Fred G. Barker II, Peter J. Jannetta, David J. Bissonette, Philip T. Shields, Mark V. Larkins and Hae Dong Jho

✓ The authors report the results of 782 microvascular decompression procedures for hemifacial spasm in 703 patients (705 sides), with follow-up study from 1 to 20 years (mean 8 years). Of 648 patients who had not undergone prior intracranial procedures for hemifacial spasm, 65% were women; their mean age was 52 years, and the mean preoperative duration of symptoms was 7 years. The onset of symptoms was typical in 92% and atypical in 8%. An additional 57 patients who had undergone prior microvascular decompression elsewhere were analyzed as a separate group. Patients were followed prospectively with annual questionnaires.

Kaplan-Meier methods showed that among patients without prior microvascular decompression elsewhere, 84% had excellent results and 7% had partial success 10 years postoperatively. Subgroup analyses (Cox proportional hazards model) showed that men had better results than women, and patients with typical onset of symptoms had better results than those with atypical onset. Nearly all failures occurred within 24 months of operation; 9% of patients underwent reoperation for recurrent symptoms. Second microvascular decompression procedures were less successful, whether the first procedure was performed at Presbyterian-University Hospital or elsewhere, unless the procedure was performed within 30 days after the first microvascular decompression. Patient age, side and preoperative duration of symptoms, history of Bell's palsy, preoperative presence of facial weakness or synkinesis, and implant material used had no influence on postoperative results.

Complications after the first microvascular decompression for hemifacial spasm included ipsilateral deaf ear in 2.6% and ipsilateral permanent, severe facial weakness in 0.9% of patients. Complications were more frequent in reoperated patients. In all, one operative death (0.1%) and two brainstem infarctions (0.3%) occurred. Microvascular decompression is a safe and definitive treatment for hemifacial spasm with proven long-term efficacy.