Trigeminal Neuralgia Treatment

Trigeminal Neuralgia Surgery

Although extremely rare, trigeminal neuralgia has been called one of the most excruciatingly painful disorders. It can range from intermittent, mild symptoms to frequent and debilitating pain. Trigeminal neuralgia is often described as an electrical jolt that can be brought on by something as subtle as a breeze.

While trigeminal neuralgia can often be mistaken for other types of facial pain, when properly diagnosed, 75 percent of trigeminal neuralgia sufferers find relief with medication, while 25 percent require surgery. Penn Highlands neurosurgeons perform a surgery called microvascular decompression to treat trigeminal neuralgia.

What is Trigeminal Neuralgia Surgery?

Microvascular decompression is the most often used surgery to treat trigeminal neuralgia. Performed for more than 60 years, it is considered the “gold standard” in trigeminal neuralgia surgery. During microvascular decompression, the neurosurgeon makes a tiny incision behind the ear and implants a small felt pad between the blood vessels and the trigeminal nerve. This alleviates the pressure on the nerve and relieves symptoms.

Microvascular decompression is an inpatient procedure performed at the new Brain and Spine Center at Penn Highlands DuBois. Patients generally stay in the hospital for 1-2 days. Patients experience immediate relief from their symptoms and there is very little risk of serious complications. This type of trigeminal neuralgia treatment cures 90-95 percent of patients, although one in five may experience a recurrence. MVD is suitable for all patients, including the elderly, as long as they do not have risk factors of anesthesia use.

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