Object: In this study the authors evaluate the efficacy of and complications associated with dedicated linear accelerator (LINAC) radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia (TN).
Methods: Between August 1995 and February 2001, 60 patients whose median age was 66.1 years (range 45-88 years) were treated with dedicated LINAC radiosurgery for TN. Forty-one patients (68.3%) had essential TN, 12 (20%) had secondary facial pain, and seven (11.7%) had atypical features. Twenty-nine patients (48.3%) had undergone previous surgical procedures. Radiation doses varied between 70 and 90 Gy (mean 83.3 Gy) at the isocenter, with the last 35 patients (58.3%) treated with a 90-Gy dose. A 5-mm collimator was used in 45 patients (75%) and a 7.5-mm collimator in 15 patients (25%). Treatment was focused at the nerve root entry zone. At last follow up (mean follow-up period 23 months, range 2-70 months), 36 (87.8%) of the 41 patients with essential TN had sustained significant pain relief (good plus excellent results). Twenty-three patients (56.1%) were pain free without medication (excellent outcome), 13 (31.7%) had a 50 to 90% reduction in pain with or without medication (good outcome), and five (12.2%) had minor improvement or no relief. Of 12 patients with secondary facial pain, significant relief was sustained in seven patients (58.3%); worse results were found with atypical pain. Fifteen (25%) of the 60 patients experienced new numbness postprocedure; no other significant complications were found. Pain relief was experienced at a mean of 2.7 months (range 0-12 months).
Conclusions: Dedicated LINAC radiosurgery is a precise and effective treatment for TN.