Microvascular relations of the trigeminal nerve: an anatomical study

Neurosurgery. 1986 Oct;19(4):535-9. doi: 10.1227/00006123-198610000-00007.


The neurovascular relationships in the trigeminal root entry zone were studied in 130 trigeminal root entry zones of 65 cadavers. No history of facial or trigeminal pain had been obtained during life in these subjects. The technique of intravascular injection, which allowed good visualization and evaluation of the neurovascular relationships, is described. A total of 42 examples of contact with the root entry zone and 10 examples of compression were identified. In 30 of the examples of contact, the finding could be related to an artery; in the other examples, it appeared to be due to veins. Of the arterial compressions, the superior cerebellar artery was responsible in 53.8%, the anterior inferior cerebellar artery was responsible in 25.6%, and pontine branches of the basilar artery were responsible for the remaining 20.6%. Only one instance of unequivocal compression by a vein was found. Other anatomical observations of interest are reported. The absence of a history of trigeminal neuralgia in the 7% of examined nerves in which root entry zone showed arterial compression is in marked contrast to the finding of 80% or more in the operative series for trigeminal neuralgia. It seems that vascular compressions may be the predominant but not the sole cause of trigeminal neuralgia.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Arteries / anatomy & histology
  • Cerebral Veins / anatomy & histology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microcirculation / anatomy & histology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / pathology
  • Trigeminal Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Trigeminal Nerve / blood supply*