Trigeminal nerve section for chronic migrainous neuralgia

Br J Neurosurg. 1993;7(5):483-90. doi: 10.3109/02688699308995070.


We report a series of 14 patients who underwent partial or complete trigeminal nerve root section for chronic unremitting migrainous neuralgia. They had all suffered attacks with severe pain for over 18 months without remission (mean duration 5.5 years). Symptoms were refractory to extended medical intervention and had caused prolonged disruption of lifestyle. The sensory root was completely divided in two cases with complete relief of pain (mean follow-up period 5.6 years). In the other 12 patients, 50-90% of the superomedial portion of the sensory root was divided. Of these, five received no further surgery, and experienced complete (n = 2), near complete (n = 2), or incomplete (n = 1) relief of neuralgia (mean follow-up 5.5 years). The remaining seven patients in the partially divided group were not relieved of pain after operation (n = 5) or suffered early recurrence of pain (n = 2). They showed incomplete sensory loss in the first trigeminal division (V1) and had a second operation to extend the nerve division. V1 anaesthesia was established in all cases after the second procedure, and as a result, four are currently completely free of pain and one has near complete relief of pain. The remaining two patients are still experiencing severe neuralgia (mean follow up 4.1 years). Twelve out of 14 patients (85.7%) receiving surgery for chronic migrainous neuralgia experienced adequate pain relief and are able to follow a normal life (mean follow up 5.6 years). Corneal abrasion was the commonest long-term complication, occurring in three cases (28.5%) and progressing to chronic keratitis in one. We conclude that total trigeminal nerve root section is an effective treatment for patients suffering from chronic migrainous neuralgia and can be safely offered as a primary surgical treatment.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cluster Headache / rehabilitation
  • Cluster Headache / surgery*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Postoperative Complications
  • Trigeminal Nerve / surgery*