Location of the abducens nerve stretched by a tortuous vertebrobasilar artery in trigeminal neuralgia.

Research paper by Takuro T Inoue, Satoshi S Shitara, Ayako A Shima, Yukihiro Y Goto, Mustaqim M Prasetya, Takanori T Fukushima

Indexed on: 07 Feb '21Published on: 06 Feb '21Published in: Acta Neurochirurgica


Trigeminal neuralgia (TGN) caused by the vertebrobasilar artery (VBA) is uncommon. The abducens nerve root is frequently dislocated by a tortuous VBA near the trigeminal nerve root. This unusual location of the root is not well known. This study aimed to investigate the location of the stretched abducens nerve root. The objective is 26 patients with VBA-related TGN who underwent microvascular decompression (MVD). We retrospectively investigated the course of the abducens nerve root with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with three-dimensional (3D) imaging and surgical findings. The displacement of the abducens nerve root on the affected side was compared to the contralateral side. The abducens nerve root was distorted by a tortuous VBA (46.2%) or the anterior inferior cerebellar artery (53.8%). The average length of the cisternal segment was stretched to 23.4 mm versus 12.4 mm on the contralateral side. The peak point of the elevated abducens nerve root was mostly located rostro-medial (65.4%) or caudo-medial (34.6%) to the neurovascular compression site of the trigeminal nerve with a mean distance of 9.1 mm. Contact with the trigeminal nerve root was observed in 7 patients (26.9%). Three-dimensional imaging was consistent with the surgical findings and useful in predicting the location of the abducens nerve root. No abducens nerve palsy was noted in our series. The abducens nerve root is located near the trigeminal nerve root in VBA-related TGN. Preoperative understanding of the unusual course of the abducens nerve root contributes to avoiding accidental nerve injury during MVD.