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Trigeminal Neuralgia

A chronic and excruciating facial pain, trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, which carries sensation from your face to your brain. Patients experience intense, stabbing pain in forehead, jaw, scalp, lips, nose and eyes, lasting anywhere from seconds to minutes. Other times mild stimulation of the face from everyday activities, such as eating, brushing your teeth, shaving and applying makeup, can trigger a pain attack. Trigeminal neuralgia can be so debilitating and can happen suddenly without warning, leaving many sufferers with a very poor quality of life.

Diagnosis

Trigeminal neuralgia is not easy to diagnose as neurologic tests and physical examination of the skull and face usually reveal no abnormality, and no known clinical or laboratory tests or X-rays can identify the condition. But AHN’s neurosurgery specialists are experts at ruling out other conditions and determining an appropriate treatment plan.

Treatments

Microvascular decompression: Pioneered by AHN neurosurgeon Peter Jannetta, MD, this procedure has become the gold standard treatment for trigeminal neuralgia. It involves relocating or removing blood vessels that are in contact with the trigeminal root by placing a pad between the nerve and the arteries. The AHN Neuroscience Institute is a national leader in performing this procedure with extremely positive results; most patients experience immediate relief.

Minimally invasive endoscopic microvascular decompression surgery: Hae Dong Jho, MD, PhD, Director of the AHN Department of Neuroendoscopy, worked with Dr. Jannetta for decades and was instrumental in developing this procedure to treat trigeminal neuralgia. Dr. Jho’s endoscopic approach uses small incisions and an endoscope to place sponges between the compressing blood vessels.

Stereotactic radiosurgery involves directing a single, precisely focused dose of radiation to the root of your trigeminal nerve without surgery. Patients typically experience gradual relief.