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Yu-Li Lee, Shu-Tian Chen, Jen-Tsung Yang, Hsu-Huei Weng, Hsueh-Lin Wang and Yuan-Hsiung Tsai

OBJECTIVE

Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is facial pain that is usually caused by neurovascular compression syndrome and is characterized by suddenly intense and paroxysmal pain. Radiofrequency lesioning (RFL) is one of the major treatments for TN, but the treatment response for RFL is sometimes inconsistent, and the recurrence of TN is not uncommon. This study aimed to estimate the outcome predictors of TN treated with RFL by using the parameters of diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).

METHODS

Fifty-one patients with TN who were treated with RFL were enrolled in the study. MRI was performed in all patients within 1 week before surgery. The visual analog scale was used to evaluate symptom severity at three time points: before, 1 week after, and 3 months after RFL. The involved cisternal segment of the trigeminal nerves was manually selected, and the histograms of each of the diffusivity metrics—including the apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC), fractional anisotropy (FA), axial diffusivity (AD), and radial diffusivity (RD)—were measured. The differences in the means, as well as the kurtosis and skewness of each of the diffusivity metrics between the nonrecurrent and recurrent groups, were then analyzed using the Mann-Whitney U-test.

RESULTS

There were significantly lower kurtosis values (a broader peak of the distributional curves) for both FA and ADC in the recurrent group (p = 0.0004 and 0.015, respectively), compared to the nonrecurrent group. The kurtoses of AD and RD, as well as the mean and skewness of all other diffusivity metrics, did not show significant differences between the two groups.

CONCLUSIONS

The pretreatment diffusivity metrics of DTI and ADC may be feasible imaging biomarkers for predicting the outcome of TN after RFL. A clarification of the kurtosis value of FA and ADC is helpful for determining the prognosis of patients after RFL.