Surgical management of geniculate neuralgia

Am J Otol. 1997 Jul;18(4):512-7.


Background: Geniculate ganglion or nervus intermedius neuraigia is an unusual condition resulting in deep ear pain with or without signs of atypical trigeminal neuralgia, deep face, or throat pain. This article describes an experience with 14 patients who came to the neurosurgical service at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center with a diagnosis of geniculate neuralgia.

Methods: After failing conservative treatment and after undergoing neurologic, otologic, and dental evaluations, these 14 patients underwent 20 intracranial procedures consisting of retromastoid craniectomies with microvascular decompression of cranial nerves V, IX, and X with section of the nervus intermedius in most cases.

Results: At operation, vascular compression of the nerves and nervus intermedius was found, which implicated vascular compression as an etiology of this disorder. Initially, 10 of 14 patients had an excellent outcome (71.5%), 3 experienced partial relief (21.5%), and there was 1 failure (7%). Ten patients were available for long-term (> 12 months) follow-up. Of these 10, 3 retained the excellent result (30%), 6 experienced partial relief (60%), and there was 1 failure (10%). Complications included one transient facial paresis, one facial numbness, one paresis of cranial nerves IX and X, one chemical meningitis, two cerebrospinal fluid leaks, and one superficial wound infection. Of those that fell from the excellent to partial category, this usually involved a return of atypical facial pain, but otalgia remained resolved.

Conclusions: Overall, good results (with excellent or partial relief) were found long term for 90% of patients in this series. The authors recommend microvascular decompression of cranial nerves V, IX, and X with nervus intermedius section for the treatment of geniculate neuralgia.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Geniculate Bodies / surgery*
  • Herpes Zoster Oticus / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome