Diagnosis and treatment of trigeminal neuralgia: Consensus statement from the Spanish Society of Neurology's Headache Study Group

Neurologia (Engl Ed). 2023 Apr 26:S2173-5808(23)00027-5. doi: 10.1016/j.nrleng.2023.04.005. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a chronic neuropathic pain disorder affecting one or more branches of the trigeminal nerve. Despite its relatively low global prevalence, TN is an important healthcare problem both in neurology departments and in emergency departments due to the difficulty of diagnosing and treating the condition and its significant impact on patients' quality of life. For all these reasons, the Spanish Society of Neurology's Headache Study Group has developed a consensus statement on the management of TN.

Development: This document was drafted by a panel of neurologists specialising in headache, who used the terminology of the International Headache Society. We analysed the published scientific evidence on the diagnosis and treatment of TN and establish practical recommendations with levels of evidence.

Conclusions: The diagnosis of TN is based on clinical criteria. Pain attributed to a lesion or disease of the trigeminal nerve is divided into TN and painful trigeminal neuropathy, according to the International Classification of Headache Disorders, third edition. TN is further subclassified into classical, secondary, or idiopathic, according to aetiology. Brain MRI is recommended in patients with clinical diagnosis of TN, in order to rule out secondary causes. In MRI studies to detect neurovascular compression, FIESTA, DRIVE, or CISS sequences are recommended. Pharmacological treatment is the initial choice in all patients. In selected cases with drug-resistant pain or poor tolerance, surgery should be considered.

Keywords: Bucle vascular; Intervencionismo; Interventional radiology; Neuralgia del trigémino; Neuropatía trigeminal dolorosa; Painful trigeminal neuropathy; Preventive treatment; Tic douloureux; Tratamiento preventivo; Trigeminal neuralgia; Vascular loop.

Publication types

  • Review