Trigeminal involvement in multiple sclerosis: magnetic resonance imaging findings with clinical correlation in a series of patients

Mult Scler. 2005 Jun;11(3):282-5. doi: 10.1191/1352458505ms1186oa.


Trigeminal involvement detected by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in multiple sclerosis (MS) patients is usually associated with trigeminal neuralgia (TN) or painless paraesthesia in the trigeminal distribution. Our aim is to review the incidence of trigeminal involvement on MRI in a series of patients with MS at our institution, with further clinical correlation. We reviewed MRI scans of 275 MS patients for the presence of gadolinium enhancement on postcontrast T1-weighted images, anatomical and signal abnormalities on different sequences at the pontine trigeminal root entry zone (REZ) and in the cisternal portion of the nerves. We observed enhancement in the cisternal portion of the nerves and signal abnormalities (with or without enhancement) at the pontine trigeminal REZ in 8 (2.9%) patients, and enhancement was bilateral in 6 (75%) of those. Despite the inflammatory activity, none of them had TN and 3 (37.5%) had only painless paraesthesias in the correspondent V3 distribution. We also found a marked trigeminal hypertrophy in 2 (25%) patients, both with a longer period of disease. Our results confirm a high and clinically silent incidence of trigeminal involvement in MS patients, and suggest a simultaneous role of the central and peripheral type of myelin in trigeminal demyelination.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Gadolinium
  • Humans
  • Hypertrophy
  • Incidence
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging* / methods
  • Male
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / epidemiology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / pathology*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / epidemiology
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / pathology*
  • Myelin Sheath / pathology
  • Pons / pathology
  • Trigeminal Nerve / pathology*
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / etiology
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / pathology*


  • Gadolinium