Review Article

Acta Neurochirurgica

, Volume 150, Issue 3, pp 243-255

First online:

Various surgical modalities for trigeminal neuralgia: literature study of respective long-term outcomes

  • M. TatliAffiliated withDepartment of Neurosurgery, Hospital Neurologique ‘Pierre Wertheimer’ Hospital, University of Lyon Email author 
  • , O. SaticiAffiliated withDepartment of Biostatistics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Dicle
  • , Y. KanpolatAffiliated withDepartment of Neurosurgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ankara
  • , M. SindouAffiliated withDepartment of Neurosurgery, Hospital Neurologique ‘Pierre Wertheimer’ Hospital, University of Lyon

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Background. The literature contains many varying, often conflicting surgical results. However, there is no study comparing long-term effectiveness of all surgical procedures for trigeminal neuralgia (TN). The aim of the present analysis is to report the long-term outcomes of surgical options of TN since the development of electronic databases, to evaluate them with the same clinical and statistical criteria and determine the most appropriate treatment.

Method. All studies that had a minimum 5 years or more (≥5 years) mean duration of follow-up were included in the review. The identified studies were evaluated independently by two authors for quality using a modified inclusion criteria. The evaluated outcome measures of this study were, the initial acute pain relief (APR), follow-up pain free period and recurrence rates as well as complications. In comparisons of the data, the Student’s t-test, Chi-square followed by Pearson’s risk analysis tests were used. Kaplan–Meier actuarial analysis of pain free-survival curves were constructed for each surgical option that had enough data.

Findings. Twenty-eight studies, mostly including microvascular decompression (MVD) and radiofrequency thermorhizotomy (RF-TR), that met the inclusion criteria were included in the review. The efficacy of MVD and percutaneous balloon microcompression (PBC) were similar (Odds ratio = 0.15, P > 0.05), and their effects were superior to those of the other modalities (P < 0.001). Although RF-TR provided a high initial pain relief, its average pain free rate was 50.4% for a mean follow-up of 5 years. The recurrence rate was high after RF-TR (46%), while the lowest recurrence rate (18.3%) was after MVD (P < 0.001). Within the long-term follow-up period recurrence of pain affects at least 19% of patients who undergo any surgical treatment for TN.

Conclusions. The study suggests that each surgical technique for treatment of trigeminal neuralgia has merits and limitations. However, MVD provides the highest rate of long-term patient’ satisfaction with the lowest rate of pain recurrence.

Keywords: Glycerol rhizotomy; long-term outcome; microvascular decompression; partial sensory rhizotomy; percutaneous balloon microcompression; radiofrequency thermorhizotomy; stereotactic radiosurgery; trigeminal neuralgia.