Trigeminal branch stimulation has been used in the treatment of craniofacial pain syndromes. The risks and benefits of such an approach have not been clearly delineated in large studies, however. The authors report their experience in treating craniofacial pain with trigeminal branch stimulation and share the lessons they have learned after 93 consecutive electrode placements.
A retrospective review of all patients who underwent trigeminal branch electrode placement by the senior author (C.J.W.) for the treatment of craniofacial pain was performed.
Thirty-five patients underwent implantation of a total of 93 trial and permanent electrodes between 2006 and 2013. Fifteen patients who experienced improved pain control after trial stimulation underwent implantation of permanent stimulators and were followed for an average of 15 months. At last follow-up 73% of patients had improvement in pain control, whereas only 27% of patients had no pain improvement. No serious complications were seen during the course of this study.
Trigeminal branch stimulation is a safe and effective treatment for a subset of patients with intractable craniofacial pain.