Trigeminal neuralgia is a disorder characterized by paroxysmal (short, frequent and recurring ) facial pain. The trigeminal nerve is the fifth cranial nerve that controls the sensory nerves in the forehead, face, chin and jaw.
Symptoms are typically treated with a pain relieving anticonvulsant drug such as carbamazepine. Surgical treatments may be undertaken for individuals experiencing symptoms that are difficult to manage or those individuals who cannot tolerate the medications.
Surgical treatments for trigeminal neualgia are:
- neurectomy of trigeminal-nerve branches outside the skull
- percutaneous ablation (surgical removal of the neural tissue) that creates trigeminal-nerve or trigeminal-ganglion lesions with heat (radiofrequency thermal rhizotomy)
- injection of glycerol into the trigeminal cistern (retrogasserian glycerol rhizotomy) resulting in chemical ablasion of the neural tissue
- physical compression (trigeminal-ganglion balloon microcompression
The above procedure all cause trauma to the trigeminal nerve, nerve ganglion or neural root interupting pain signals the faulty nerve was sending to the brain to cause the facial pain.
Barker, Fred, G, Bissonette, David, J, Dong Jho, Hae, Janetta, Peter, J, and Larkins, Mark, V. 1996. The Long term outcome of microvascular decompression surgery for trigeminal neuralgia. The New England Journal of Medicine. 334:1077-1084.
Lunsford, Dade, L and Kondziolka, Douglas. 2005. Pericutaneous retrogasserian glycerol rhizotomy for trigeninalneuralgia: Technique and expectations. Neurological Focus. 18 (1)