Objective: Frame-based radiosurgical rhizotomy has been shown in clinical studies to be effective for managing trigeminal neuralgia (TN). To date, however, only a small pilot study has been published for the frameless, image-guided CyberKnife system. We present our preliminary experience with 29 trigeminal neuralgia patients treated with the frameless CyberKnife using X-ray image-guided targeting, a novel CT method for target definition, and non-isocentric planning.
Materials and methods: All 29 patients failed previous medical therapy and 14 had undergone prior surgical procedures. CT iohexal cisternography was used to identify the 6- to 8-mm segment of nerve to be lesioned. The marginal dose ranged from 60 to 70 Gy (median 66.4 Gy) as defined at an average 79th percentile. The corresponding Dmax varied from 71.4 to 86.4 Gy (median 77.91 Gy).
Results: After a median 10-month follow-up, 26 of 29 (90%) patients rated their pain control as excellent and 3 (10%) reported no improvement. Median time to improvement was 6 days. No or only minor progression in numbness was reported by 22 of 29 (76%) patients, 4 of 29 (14%) patients reported worsening, and 3 of 29 (10%) reported the onset of severe ipsilateral facial numbness. Two patients whose target volume inadvertently included the semi-lunar ganglion developed painful dysethesias in the distribution of their numbness.
Conclusion: Although the optimal dose and length of nerve to be lesioned are still being refined, this preliminary experience suggests that image-guided robotic radiosurgery can effectively lesion the trigeminal nerve. Further follow-up is needed to determine whether our method has advantages over the more commonly used procedure for radiosurgical trigeminal rhizotomy.