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John Y. K. Lee, Sukhmeet Sandhu, Denise Miller, Timothy Solberg, Jay F. Dorsey and Michelle Alonso-Basanta

OBJECT

Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) utilizes cobalt-60 as its radiation source, and thus dose rate varies as the fixed source decays over its half-life of approximately 5.26 years. This natural decay results in increasing treatment times when delivering the same cumulative dose. It is also possible, however, that the biological effective dose may change based on this dose rate even if the total dose is kept constant. Because patients are generally treated in a uniform manner, radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia (TN) represents a clinical model whereby biological efficacy can be tested. The authors hypothesized that higher dose rates would result in earlier and more complete pain relief but only if measured with a sensitive pain assessment tool.

METHODS

One hundred thirty-three patients were treated with the Gamma Knife Model 4C unit at a single center by a single neurosurgeon during a single cobalt life cycle from January 2006 to May 2012. All patients were treated with 80 Gy with a single 4-mm isocenter without blocking. Using an output factor of 0.87, dose rates ranged from 1.28 to 2.95 Gy/min. The Brief Pain Inventory (BPI)-Facial was administered before the procedure and at the first follow-up office visit 1 month from the procedure (mean 1.3 months). Phone calls were made to evaluate patients after their procedures as part of a retrospective study. Univariate and multivariate linear regression was performed on several independent variables, including sex, age in deciles, diagnosis, follow-up duration, prior surgery, and dose rate.

RESULTS

In the short-term analysis (mean 1.3 months), patients’ self-reported pain intensity at its worst was significantly correlated with dose rate on multivariate analysis (p = 0.028). Similarly, patients’ self-reported interference with activities of daily living was closely correlated with dose rate on multivariate analysis (p = 0.067). A 1 Gy/min decrease in dose rate resulted in a 17% decrease in pain intensity at its worst and a 22% decrease in pain interference with activities of daily living. In longer-term follow-up (mean 1.9 years), GKRS with higher dose rates (> 2.0 Gy/min; p = 0.007) and older age in deciles (p = 0.012) were associated with a lower likelihood of recurrence of pain.

DISCUSSION

Prior studies investigating the role of dose rate in Gamma Knife radiosurgical ablation for TN have not used validated outcome tools to measure pain preoperatively. Consequently, differences in pain outcomes have been difficult to measure. By administering pain scales both preoperatively as well as postoperatively, the authors have identified statistically significant differences in pain intensity and pain interference with activities of daily living when comparing higher versus lower dose rates. Radiosurgery with a higher dose rate results in more pain relief at the early follow-up evaluation, and it may result in a lower recurrence rate at later follow-up.

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John Y. K. Lee, John T. Pierce, Sukhmeet K. Sandhu, Dmitriy Petrov and Andrew I. Yang

OBJECTIVE

Endoscopic surgery has revolutionized surgery of the ventral skull base but has not yet been widely adopted for use in the cerebellopontine angle. Given the relatively normal anatomy of the cerebellopontine angle in patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TN), the authors hypothesized that a fully endoscopic microvascular decompression (E-MVD) might provide pain outcomes equivalent to those of microscopic MVD (M-MVD) but with fewer complications.

METHODS

The authors conducted a single-institution, single-surgeon retrospective study with patients treated in the period of 2006–2013. Before surgery, all patients completed a questionnaire that included a validated multidimensional pain-outcome tool, the Penn Facial Pain Scale (PFPS, formerly known as Brief Pain Inventory–Facial), an 11-point scale that measures pain intensity, interference with general activities of daily living (ADLs), and facial-specific ADLs. Using a standardized script, independent research assistants conducted follow-up telephone interviews.

RESULTS

In total, 167 patients were available for follow-ups (66.5% female; 93 patients underwent M-MVD and 74 underwent E-MVD). Preoperative characteristics (i.e., TN classification, PFPS components, and medication use) were similar for the 2 surgical groups except for 2 variables. Patients in the M-MVD group had slightly higher incidence of V3 pain, and the 2 groups differed in the date of surgery and hence in the length of follow-up (2.4 years for the M-MVD group and 1.3 years for the E-MVD group, p < 0.05). There was a trend toward not finding neurovascular conflict at the time of surgery more frequently in the M-MVD than in the E-MVD group (11% vs 7%, p = 0.052). Internal neurolysis was more often performed in the E-MVD group (26% vs 7%, p = 0.001). The 2 groups did not significantly differ in the length of the MVD procedure (approximately 2 hours). Self-reported headaches at 1 month postoperatively were present in 21% of the patients in the M-MVD group versus 7% in the E-MVD group (p = 0.01). Pain outcomes at the most recent followup were equivalent, with patients reporting a 5- to 6-point (70%–80%) improvement in pain intensity, a 5-point (85%) improvement in pain interference with ADLs, and a 6-point (85%) improvement in interference with facial-specific ADLs. Actuarial freedom from pain recurrence was equivalent in the 2 groups, with 80% pain control at 3 years.

CONCLUSIONS

Both the fully endoscopic MVD and the conventional M-MVD appear to provide patients with equivalent pain outcomes. Complication rates were also similar between the groups, with the exception of the rate of headaches, which was significantly lower in the E-MVD group 1 month postoperatively.

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Leif-Erik Bohman, John Pierce, James H. Stephen, Sukhmeet Sandhu and John Y. K. Lee

Object

Fully endoscopicmicrovascular decompression (E-MVD) of the trigeminal nerve was initially described more than 1 decade ago, but has not yet gained wide acceptance. The authors present the experience of their first 47 consecutive E-MVDs for trigeminal neuralgia (TN).

Methods

All surgeries were performed by a single surgeon (J.Y.K.L.) at the Pennsylvania Hospital at the University of Pennsylvania. Patients prospectively completed pain scales before and after surgery by using the Brief Pain Inventory–Facial outcomes tool. All patients were called on the telephone, and the same outcome tool was administered without reference to their preoperative pain status.

Results

Forty-seven patients (17 men) were identified and enrolled. Forty (85%) had Burchiel Type 1 TN. Vascular compression was observed at surgery in 42 patients (89%). No surgery was aborted or converted to microscope. One patient suffered permanent hearing loss, for a permanent neurological morbidity rate of 2%. Overall improvement in pain outcomes was excellent, with a median maximum pain intensity preoperatively of 10 and postoperatively of 0 (p< 0.0001). The mean interference with global function scores were 6.2 preoperatively and reduced to 1.0 at last follow-up (p < 0.0001). The mean interference with facial function was 7.3 preoperatively and reduced to 1.2 at last follow-up (p < 0.0001). The mean follow-up period after surgery was 15 ± 8 months.

Conclusions

In experienced hands, E-MVD offers superb visualization and illumination and is both safe and effective, at least in the short term. Further longer-term study is needed to compare E-MVD to traditional microscopic MVD.

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Sukhmeet K. Sandhu, Casey H. Halpern, Venus Vakhshori, Keyvan Mirsaeedi-Farahani, John T. Farrar and John Y. K. Lee

OBJECT

Neurosurgeons are frequently the primary physicians measuring pain relief in patients with trigeminal neuralgia (TN). Unfortunately, the measurement of pain can be complex. The Brief Pain Inventory–Facial (BPI-Facial) is a reliable and validated multidimensional tool that consists of 18 questions. It measures 3 domains of pain: 1) pain intensity (worst and average pain intensity), 2) interference with general activities of daily living (ADL), and 3) face-specific pain interference. The objective of this paper is to determine the patient-reported minimum clinically important difference (MCID) using the BPI-Facial.

METHODS

The authors conducted a retrospective study of 234 patients with TN seen in a single neurosurgeon's office. Patients completed baseline and 1-month follow-up BPI-Facial questionnaires. The MCID was calculated using an anchor-based approach in which the defined anchor was the 7-point patient global impression of change (PGIC). Two statistical methods were employed: mean change score and optimal cutoff point.

RESULTS

Using the mean change score method, the investigators calculated the MCID for the 3 domains of the BPIFacial: 44% and 30% improvement in pain intensity at its worst and average, respectively, 54% improvement in interference with general ADL, and 63% improvement in interference with facial ADL. Using the optimal cutoff point method, they also calculated the MCID for the 3 domains of the BPI-Facial: 57% and 28% improvement in pain intensity at its worst and average, respectively, 75% improvement in interference with general ADL, and 62% improvement in interference with facial ADL.

CONCLUSIONS

The BPI-Facial is a multidimensional pain scale that measures 3 domains of pain. Although 2 statistical methods were used to calculate the MCID, the optimal cutoff point method was the superior one because it used data from the majority of subjects included in this study. A 57% improvement in pain intensity at its worst and a 28% improvement in pain intensity at its average were the MCIDs for patients with facial pain. A greater improvement was needed to achieve the MCID for interference with general and facial ADL. A 75% improvement in interference with general ADL and a 62% improvement in interference with facial ADL were needed to achieve an MCID. While pain intensity is easier to measure, pain's interference with ADL may be more important for patient outcomes when designing or evaluating interventions in the field of TN. The BPI-Facial is a useful instrument to measure changes in multidimensional aspects of pain in patients with TN.

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Andrew I. Yang, Brendan J. McShane, Frederick L. Hitti, Sukhmeet K. Sandhu, H. Isaac Chen and John Y. K. Lee

OBJECTIVE

First-line treatment for trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is pharmacological management using antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), e.g., carbamazepine (CBZ) and oxcarbazepine (OCBZ). Surgical intervention has been shown to be an effective and durable treatment for TN that is refractory to medical therapy. Despite the lack of evidence for efficacy in patients with TN, the authors hypothesized that patients with neuropathic facial pain are prescribed opioids at high rates, and that neurosurgical intervention may lead to a reduction in opioid use.

METHODS

This is a retrospective study of patients with facial pain seen by a single neurosurgeon. All patients completed a survey on pain medications, medical comorbidities, prior interventions for facial pain, and a validated pain outcome tool (the Penn Facial Pain Scale). Patients subsequently undergoing neurosurgical intervention completed a survey at the 1-month follow-up in the office, in addition to telephone interviews using a standardized script between 1 and 6 years after intervention. Univariate and multivariate logistic regression were used to predict opioid use.

RESULTS

The study cohort consisted of 309 patients (70% Burchiel type 1 TN [TN1], 18% Burchiel type 2 [TN2], 6% atypical facial pain [AFP], and 6% TN secondary to multiple sclerosis [TN-MS]). At initial presentation, 20% of patients were taking opioids. Of these patients, 55% were receiving concurrent opioid therapy with CBZ/OCBZ, and 84% were receiving concurrent therapy with at least one type of AED. Facial pain diagnosis (for diagnoses other than TN1, odds ratio [OR] 2.5, p = 0.01) and facial pain intensity at its worst (for each unit increase, OR 1.4, p = 0.005) were predictors of opioid use at baseline. Neurosurgical intervention led to a reduction in opioid use to 8% at long-term follow-up (p < 0.01, Fisher’s exact test; n = 154). Diagnosis (for diagnoses other than TN1, OR 4.7, p = 0.002) and postintervention reduction in pain at its worst (for each unit reduction, OR 0.8, p < 10−3) were predictors of opioid use at long-term follow-up. On subgroup analysis, patients with TN1 demonstrated a decrease in opioid use to 5% at long-term follow-up (p < 0.05, Fisher’s exact test), whereas patients with non-TN1 facial pain did not. In the nonsurgical group, there was no statistically significant decrease in opioid use at long-term follow-up (n = 81).

CONCLUSIONS

In spite of its high potential for abuse, opioid use, mostly as an adjunct to AEDs, is prevalent in patients with facial pain. Opportunities to curb opioid use in TN1 include earlier neurosurgical intervention.