Objective: To evaluate treatment of essential trigeminal neuralgia with 90 Gy delivered by a linear accelerator dedicated to radiosurgery.
Methods: This is a retrospective case series of 25 patients with essential trigeminal neuralgia treated from March 1999 to March 2001. All were treated with 90 Gy by means of a 5-mm collimator directed to the nerve root entry zone. Patient follow-up (range, 8-52 mo; median, 18 mo) was completed by an uninvolved party. Dose volume histograms of the brainstem were developed for the 20, 30, and 50% isodose lines by means of radiosurgery planning software.
Results: All patients obtained good to excellent pain relief with treatment. Nineteen (76%) of 25 patients achieved excellent pain relief (pain-free without medication). Six patients (24%) achieved good pain relief (50-90% reduction of pain with or without medication). Median time to pain relief was 2 months. Eight patients (32%) experienced relapse 4 to 13 months after treatment. Eight patients (32%) developed facial numbness, but none developed painful numbness. Mean brainstem volume within the 50% isodose line and occurrence of numbness was statistically significant (P = 0.03). There was no correlation between brainstem volume treated and outcome.
Conclusion: Dedicated linear accelerator-based stereotactic radiosurgery that uses a 5-mm collimator to deliver 90 Gy to the nerve root entry zone is a safe and effective method for the treatment of essential trigeminal neuralgia. Care should be taken to limit brainstem volume included in the 50% isodose line in the treatment plan to avoid facial numbness.