Peripheral trigeminal nerve surgery for patients with atypical facial pain

J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 1994 Dec;22(6):355-60. doi: 10.1016/s1010-5182(05)80117-9.


Atypical facial pain (AFP) is characterized by a constant, poorly defined anatomically aching pain, lacking the paroxysmal quality, trigger point activation, and well-defined anatomical distribution of trigeminal neuralgia. This study examines a set of AFP patients with respect to their responses to external decompression (4 patients) and neurectomy (11 patients). Criteria for trigeminal nerve exploration were: failure of non-operative treatments, the ability to control pain temporarily with local anesthetic nerve blocks, and pain generally located within the anatomical distribution of the affected nerve. Decision as whether to perform an external decompression or neurectomy was based on gross anatomical findings during exploration. A retrospective interview was conducted to evaluate the effects of the chosen procedure in regard to subjective level of pain, freedom from restrictions placed on activities of daily living, and past medical history, including history of the facial pain. The neurectomy procedure (p = 0.022), medical history of autoimmune disease (p = 0.004), and preoperative pain distribution on the left side (p = 0.042), were all found to have a positive effect on outcome. History of psychiatric treatment (p = 0.055) and preoperative affected activities of daily living (p = 0.026) significantly adversely affected the outcome.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications
  • Facial Pain / prevention & control
  • Facial Pain / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Block
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Failure
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trigeminal Nerve / physiopathology
  • Trigeminal Nerve / surgery*