The objective of this study was to assess long-term outcomes of facial pain and numbness after radiosurgery for multiple sclerosis (MS)–related trigeminal neuralgia (MS-TN).
The authors conducted a retrospective review of their Gamma Knife radiosurgeries (GKRSs) to identify all patients treated for MS-TN (1998–2014) with at least 3 years of follow-up. Treatment and clinical data were obtained via chart review and mailed or telephone surveys. Pain control was defined as a facial pain score of I–IIIb on the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) Facial Pain Intensity Scale. Kaplan-Meier analysis was performed to determine the rates of pain control after index and first salvage GKRS procedures. Patients could have had more than 1 salvage procedure. Pain control rates were based on the number of patients at risk during follow-up.
Of the 50 living patients who underwent GKRS, 42 responded to surveys (31 women [74%], median age 59 years, range 32–76 years). During the initial GKRS, the trigeminal nerve root entry zone was targeted with a single isocenter, using a 4-mm collimator with the 90% isodose line completely covering the trigeminal nerve and the 50% isodose line abutting the surface of the brainstem. The median maximum radiation dose was 85 Gy (range 50–85 Gy). The median follow-up period was 78 months (range 36–226 months). The rate of pain control after the index GKRS (n = 42) was 62%, 29%, 22%, and 13% at 1, 3, 5, and 7 years, respectively. Twenty-eight patients (67%) underwent salvage treatment, including 25 (60%) whose first salvage treatment was GKRS. The rate of pain control after the first salvage GKRS (n = 25) was 84%, 50%, 44%, and 17% at 1, 3, 5, and 7 years, respectively. The rate of pain control after the index GKRS with or without 1 salvage GKRS (n = 33) was 92%, 72%, 52%, 46%, and 17% at 1, 3, 5, 7, and 10 years, respectively. At last follow-up, 9 (21%) of the 42 patients had BNI grade I facial pain, 35 (83%) had achieved pain control, and 4 (10%) had BNI grade IV facial numbness (very bothersome in daily life).
Index GKRS offers good short-term pain control for MS-TN, but long-term pain control is uncommon. If the index GKRS fails, salvage GKRS appears to offer beneficial pain control with low rates of bothersome facial numbness.