Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is difficult to treat. On the basis of results obtained by using Gamma Knife surgery (GKS) to treat trigeminal neuralgia, the authors have used GKS to treat glossopharyngeal neuralgia in a series of patients since 2007. Their objectives with this study were to demonstrate the usefulness and safety of GKS for treating glossopharyngeal neuralgia and to describe a simple treatment method.
From 2007 through 2013, the authors treated glossopharyngeal neuralgia in 5 patients (4 women and 1 man), who ranged in age from 36 to 74 years. One patient had previously undergone treatment for trigeminal neuralgia at the Ruber International Hospital, Department of Functional Neurosurgery and Gamma Knife Radiosurgery. For all patients, before GKS, medical management did not control the pain. Three patients had previously undergone surgery (2 microvascular decompression and 1 rhizotomy) without improvement. For the GKS procedure, the nerve was localized by MRI and CT under stereotactic conditions and the target was located at the level of the glossopharyngeal meatus of the jugular foramen. For 1 patient, a maximum dose of 80 Gy was administrated with a 4-mm collimator, and for the others, the maximum dose was 90 Gy. The nerves located near the glossopharyngeal nerve received between 63 and 10 Gy, and the brainstem received less than 10 Gy. The mean follow-up time was 43 months (range 14–83 months).
All patients improved within 3–6 months after undergoing GKS. All 5 are without pain; 3 patients take no medication, but the other 2 patients continue to take medication. No neurological deficits after GKS were observed.
GKS is useful and safe for treating glossopharyngeal neuralgia, even for patients who have previously undergone surgery. GKS should be considered as the initial therapy for glossopharyngeal neuralgia.