Objective: The aim of this study was to demonstrate the use and applications of the three-dimensional fast imaging employing steady-state acquisition (3-D-FIESTA) magnetic resonance imaging sequence in targeting and planning for stereotactic radiosurgery of trigeminal neuralgia.
Methods: A 3-D-FIESTA sequence for visualization of cranial nerves in the cranial base was added to the routine magnetic resonance imaging scan to enhance the treatment planning for trigeminal neuralgia. T1-weighted images, 1 mm thick, were directly compared with the FIESTA sequence for the exact visualization of the trigeminal entry zone and surrounding vasculature. The target accuracy was evaluated by image fusion of computed tomographic and magnetic resonance imaging scans. The anatomy visualized with the FIESTA sequence was validated by direct inspection of the gross anatomic specimens of the trigeminal complex.
Results: A total of 15 consecutive patients, 10 women and 5 men, underwent radiosurgery for essential trigeminal neuralgia between April and July, 2003. The mean age of the patients was 65.2 years (range, 24-83 yr). Nine patients had right-sided symptoms. Four patients had had previous surgery (two microvascular decompression, one percutaneous rhizotomy, and one radiofrequency thermocoagulation). The 3-D-FIESTA sequence successfully demonstrated the trigeminal complex (root entry zone, trigeminal ganglion, rootlets, and vasculature) in 14 patients (93.33%). The 3-D-FIESTA sequence also allowed visualization of the branches of the trigeminal nerve inside Meckel's cavity. This exact visualization correlated precisely with the anatomic specimens. In one patient (6.66%), it was not possible to demonstrate the related vasculature. However, the other structures were clearly visualized.
Conclusion: The 3-D-FIESTA sequence is used in this study for demonstration of the exact anatomy of the trigeminal complex for the purpose of radiosurgical planning and treatment of trigeminal neuralgia. With such imaging techniques, radiosurgical targeting of specific trigeminal nerve branches may be feasible. It has not been possible previously to target individual branches of the trigeminal nerve.