Trigeminal and occipital peripheral nerve stimulation for craniofacial pain: a single-institution experience and review of the literature

Konstantin V. Slavin Department of Neurosurgery, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois

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M. Efkan Colpan Department of Neurosurgery, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois

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Naureen Munawar Department of Neurosurgery, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois

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Christian Wess Department of Neurosurgery, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois

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Hrachya Nersesyan Department of Neurosurgery, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois

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 M.D., Ph.D.
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Object

Treatment of chronic neuropathic pain in the region of the head and face presents a challenge for pain specialists; patients who do not respond to conventional treatment modalities usually continue to suffer from pain due to the lack of reliable medical and surgical approaches. Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) has been used to treat neuropathic pain for many decades, but only recently has it been applied systematically to the craniofacial region. To advance the study of this treatment option, the authors present their initial experience with this approach, summarize published data on the use of PNS in treatment of craniofacial pain, and discuss some technical details of the craniofacial PNS procedure.

Methods

A review of prospectively collected data in 30 patients who underwent PNS surgery for craniofacial pain was performed. The pain location, duration, cause, and previous treatments were analyzed, along with the surgical details, initial and long-term results, complications, and repeated operations.

Stimulated nerves in this group included supraorbital (seven patients), infraorbital (six), and occipital (21); in 19 patients more than one nerve was stimulated. Twenty-two patients proceeded with implantation of a permanent system after the trial. Of these, at the time of the latest evaluation (mean follow-up duration 35 months), in two patients the devices had been removed because of pain improvement over time, in three the devices were removed due to loss of effectiveness (two cases) or late infection (one), and the rest are enjoying either complete (15 patients) or partial (two patients) pain relief. Three patients underwent repeated operation due to lead erosion, infection, or migration.

Conclusions

Peripheral nerve stimulation appears to be a safe and effective approach in the treatment of craniofacial neuropathic pain. The growing body of literature supports a wider acceptance of this approach in the field of pain surgery.

Abbreviations used in this paper:

PNS = peripheral nerve stimulation.

Object

Treatment of chronic neuropathic pain in the region of the head and face presents a challenge for pain specialists; patients who do not respond to conventional treatment modalities usually continue to suffer from pain due to the lack of reliable medical and surgical approaches. Peripheral nerve stimulation (PNS) has been used to treat neuropathic pain for many decades, but only recently has it been applied systematically to the craniofacial region. To advance the study of this treatment option, the authors present their initial experience with this approach, summarize published data on the use of PNS in treatment of craniofacial pain, and discuss some technical details of the craniofacial PNS procedure.

Methods

A review of prospectively collected data in 30 patients who underwent PNS surgery for craniofacial pain was performed. The pain location, duration, cause, and previous treatments were analyzed, along with the surgical details, initial and long-term results, complications, and repeated operations.

Stimulated nerves in this group included supraorbital (seven patients), infraorbital (six), and occipital (21); in 19 patients more than one nerve was stimulated. Twenty-two patients proceeded with implantation of a permanent system after the trial. Of these, at the time of the latest evaluation (mean follow-up duration 35 months), in two patients the devices had been removed because of pain improvement over time, in three the devices were removed due to loss of effectiveness (two cases) or late infection (one), and the rest are enjoying either complete (15 patients) or partial (two patients) pain relief. Three patients underwent repeated operation due to lead erosion, infection, or migration.

Conclusions

Peripheral nerve stimulation appears to be a safe and effective approach in the treatment of craniofacial neuropathic pain. The growing body of literature supports a wider acceptance of this approach in the field of pain surgery.

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