Motor cortex stimulation for trigeminal neuropathic or deafferentation pain: an institutional case series experience

Stereotact Funct Neurosurg. 2011;89(2):83-8. doi: 10.1159/000323338. Epub 2011 Feb 2.


Background: Trigeminal neuropathy is a rare, devastating condition that can be intractable and resistant to treatment. When medical treatment fails, invasive options are limited. Motor cortex stimulation (MCS) is a relatively recent technique introduced to treat central neuropathic pain. The use of MCS to treat trigeminal neuropathic or deafferentation pain is not widespread and clinical data in the medical literature that demonstrate efficacy are limited.

Method: We retrospectively reviewed patients with trigeminal neuropathic or trigeminal deafferentation pain who were treated at the Oregon Health & Science University between 2001 and 2008 by 1 neurosurgeon using MCS.

Results: Eight of 11 patients (3 male, 8 female) underwent successful permanent implantation of an MCS system. All 8 patients reported initial satisfactory pain control. Three failed to experience continued pain control (6 months of follow-up). Five continued to experience long-term pain control (mean follow-up, 33 months). Average programming sessions were 2.2/year (all 8 patients) and 1.55/year (5 patients who sustained long-term pain control). Patients with anesthesia dolorosa or trigeminal deafferentation pain who had previously undergone ablative trigeminal procedures responded poorly to MCS. We encountered no perioperative complications.

Conclusion: MCS is a safe and potentially effective therapy in certain patients with trigeminal neuropathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Causalgia / physiopathology
  • Causalgia / therapy*
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / instrumentation
  • Electric Stimulation Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Implantable Neurostimulators*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Cortex / physiology*
  • Neuralgia / physiopathology
  • Neuralgia / therapy*
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / instrumentation
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods
  • Pain, Intractable / physiopathology
  • Pain, Intractable / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trigeminal Nerve Diseases / physiopathology
  • Trigeminal Nerve Diseases / therapy
  • Trigeminal Nerve*