Objective: The current opinion among neurosurgeons regarding the selection between microvascular decompression (MVD) and gamma knife radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia is not based on clear evidence. In this meta-analysis, we have attempted to synthesize the findings of the prospective trials comparing the efficacy and complications of the two procedures as primary treatment modality for medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia.
Materials and methods: The authors performed a systematic review of PubMed for manuscripts comparing the efficacy or complications of MVD and stereotactic radiosurgery for medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia. The data of the identified studies was pooled and a meta-analysis was done.
Results: Five prospective studies fulfilling the eligibility criteria were identified. The mean age of the patients subjected to gamma knife therapy (GKT) was more than those who underwent MVD. The initial success rate in the pooled data with MVD was 96% (95% confidence interval [C.I.] 93.3%-98.6%) as compared to GKT which was 71.8% (95% C.I. 64.9%-78.7%) with the ratio of 1.309 (95% C.I. 1.217-1.409; P= <0.001). This superiority was sustained till the last follow up available in all the studies. Out of the complications common to both procedures, MVD had a lower rate of facial numbness, with a risk ratio of 0.481 (95% C.I. 0.297-0.778); and dysesthetic pain, with a risk ratio of 0.470 (95% C.I. 0.172-1.286).
Conclusions: MVD seems to be more efficacious than GKT as a first line treatment for trigeminal neuralgia immediately as well as on a long term basis. However, the dilemma regarding the choice of treatment to be adopted still remains for special subgroups of patients, like the elderly patients and those in whom no vascular compression has been found during surgery. Further studies are needed for elucidating the unequivocal treatment plan under these circumstances.
Keywords: Gamma knife therapy; meta-analysis; microvascular decompression; stereotactic radiosurgery; trigeminal neuralgia.