Gamma Knife Radiosurgery for Multiple Sclerosis-Associated Trigeminal Neuralgia

Neurosurgery. 2019 Nov 1;85(5):E933-E939. doi: 10.1093/neuros/nyz182.


Background: Trigeminal neuralgia in the setting of multiple sclerosis (MS-TN) is a challenging condition to manage that is commonly treated with Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS; Elekta AB). However, data regarding the efficacy of this treatment are somewhat limited, particularly for repeat GKRS.

Objective: To report outcomes of GKRS for MS-TN from a cohort study.

Methods: Retrospective review of our GKRS database identified 77 cases of unilateral MS-TN (UMSTN) in 74 patients treated with GKRS between 2001 and 2016, with 37 cases undergoing repeat GKRS. Background medical history, treatment outcomes and complications, and dosimetric data were obtained by retrospective chart reviews and telephone interviews.

Results: Eighty-two percent of UMSTN cases achieved Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) IIIb or better pain relief following initial GKRS for a median duration of 1.1 yr. Estimated rates of pain relief at 1, 3, and 5 yr were 51, 39, and 29% respectively. Eighty-eight percent achieved BNI IIIb or better pain relief after repeat GKRS for a median duration of 4.0 yr. Estimated rates of pain relief at 1 and 3 yr were 70 and 54%, respectively. Median doses for initial and repeat GKRS were 85 and 80 Gy to the 100% isodose line, respectively. Those with MS-TN had a shorter duration of BNI IIIb or better pain relief after initial (4.6 vs 1.1 yr), but not repeat GKRS (3.8 vs 4.0 yr) compared to a historical cohort from our institution.

Conclusion: GKRS is an effective, well-tolerated treatment for patients with MS-TN. More durable relief is often achieved with repeat GKRS.

Keywords: Gamma Knife; Multiple sclerosis; Radiosurgery; Trigeminal neuralgia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kaplan-Meier Estimate
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis / complications*
  • Pain Management
  • Radiation Dosage
  • Radiosurgery / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / etiology*
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / surgery*