Gamma knife radiosurgery as the first surgery for trigeminal neuralgia

Stereotact Funct Neurosurg. 1998 Oct;70 Suppl 1:187-91. doi: 10.1159/000056421.


To evaluate the role of Gamma Knife radiosurgery as the first surgical therapy in the management of medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia, we reviewed outcomes on our first 23 patients who had radiosurgery as primary surgical therapy. These patients represented 19% of our overall series. Mean patient age was 66 years, and mean follow-up after radiosurgery was 12 months (range 5-33 months). For most patients, radiosurgery was performed because the patient had medical contraindications to open surgery. 14 patients had 70-Gy radiosurgery, and 9 patients, 80 Gy. Radiosurgery was performed using a single 4 mm isocenter. Postoperative imaging 6 to 9 months following radiosurgery confirmed regions of enhancement at the radiosurgical target. Nine patients received 70 Gy, and 8 patients had 80 Gy. 17 patients (74%) had an excellent result (total pain relief). Five patients (22%) achieved a good result (50-90% improvement). One patient had a poor result (4%) after 70-Gy radiosurgery and subsequently underwent microvascular decompression. No patient developed facial numbness or any other complication after Gamma Knife radiosurgery. Gamma Knife radiosurgery using 70 or 80 Gy targeted to the proximal trigeminal nerve proved to be a safe and effective primary surgical therapy for medically refractory trigeminal neuralgia. The overall response rate (96%) was similar to that obtained with other surgical therapies performed as a first procedure.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Middle Aged
  • Palliative Care
  • Radiosurgery / instrumentation*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trigeminal Nerve / pathology
  • Trigeminal Nerve / surgery
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / diagnosis
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / surgery*