The significance of three-dimensional MR-defined neurovascular compression for the pathogenesis of trigeminal neuralgia

J Neurol. 1995 Jan;242(2):93-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00887823.


Three-dimensional MR tomography was used to examine the relationship between symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia and neurovascular compression of the nerve in 18 patients. The intensity of neurovascular interaction was classified according to neuroradiological criteria. We found that a radiologically defined compression or dislocation of the nerve by an artery was always associated with symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia. A simple contact between vessel and nerve, however, was also observed on the asymptomatic sides of 10 out of 18 patients. In 6 of 18 patients, in contrast, trigeminal neuralgia was present in spite of the absence of neurovascular contact. In accordance with a cited study based on autopsy and intraoperative findings, our findings indicate that, in a certain proportion of cases, trigeminal neuralgia may be caused by neurovascular compression alone, whereas in other cases, other pathogenetic factors may be involved to a varying degree or be even exclusively responsible for the development of trigeminal neuralgia. The possible significance of the method for a preoperative estimation of the success of microvascular decompression of the trigeminal nerve is discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cerebral Arteries / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / complications
  • Intracranial Arteriovenous Malformations / diagnosis
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / complications*
  • Trigeminal Nerve / blood supply
  • Trigeminal Nerve / pathology
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / diagnosis*
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / etiology*
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / surgery