Background: Percutaneous balloon compression is an effective, low-cost, simple therapeutic modality with the special advantage of being the only percutaneous technique that can be simply performed with the patient under general anesthesia for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia.
Objective: To identify surgical and individual parameters that could influence outcome in patients with trigeminal neuralgia treated with percutaneous balloon compression.
Methods: Within a 5-year period, 66 consecutive percutaneous balloon compressions were performed in 47 patients. The medical and surgical records of all patients were retrospectively reviewed and analyzed for a possible correlation between the following parameters and outcome: balloon shape, balloon volume, compression time, age, sex, type of pain, duration of disease, previous procedures, and trigeminal division affected. Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to test for statistical significance.
Results: The initial success rate was 85%, and 36% of the responders are still pain free with a mean follow-up of approximately 20 months, whereas in 33 patients, trigeminal pain recurred after a mean of approximately 17 months. Of the investigated parameters, significant correlations were obtained between balloon shape and all aspects of outcome, previous operations and complication rate, pain type and complication rate, and compression time and postoperative numbness.
Conclusion: The balloon shape is a parameter with a very strong impact on outcome, and balloon volume should be adjusted to this parameter. Persistent elliptical balloon shapes should raise consideration of aborting the procedure. There were no differences in outcomes between 60 seconds and longer compression times. The number of previous operations did not correlate with pain relief, but seemed to increase the risk of complications. Patients with multiple sclerosis seemed to obtain similar benefit from the procedure as do patients with classic trigeminal neuralgia.