Percutaneous radiofrequency thermocoagulation for the treatment of different types of trigeminal neuralgia: evaluation of quality of life and outcomes.

Research paper by Yizhong Y Huang, Jiaxiang J Ni, Baishan B Wu, Mingwei M He, Liqiang L Yang, Qi Q Wang

Indexed on: 18 Jun '10Published on: 18 Jun '10Published in: Journal of Huazhong University of Science and Technology [Medical Sciences]


Radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RFT) of the gasserian ganglion is a routine and effective technique for the treatment of classical trigeminal neuralgia (CTN). In this study we compared its efficacy in patients with CTN and atypically symptomatic or mixed trigeminal neuralgia (MTN). Fifty-seven patients were treated with RFT for trigeminal neuralgia from June 2006 to February 2009. Thirty patients had CTN, and 27 had MTN. Outcomes were measured by using the visual analog pain scale (VAS) and patients' reports of quality of life (QOL), medication usage, and complications over a follow-up period of up to 3 years. Our results showed that the patients with MTN were younger, tended to have bilaterial involvement of the first division, and were unresponsive to treatment. All surgeries were completed smoothly. About 86.7% CTN patients and 48.1% MTN patients responded immediately to RFT. The VAS scores were significantly higher in the CTN group than in MTN group (P<0.05). Kaplan-Meier curves showed that 1-year, 2-year, and 3-year pain relief rates were 76.7%, 73.3%, and 73.3% in the CTN group and 46.6%, 41.4%, and 41.4% in the MTN group, respectively. The rates of pain relief for both groups leveled off at 2 years. Complications included numbness, dysesthesia, and anesthesia dolorosa. RFT did not cause any deaths and complications were low. The treatment was very effective for CTN and, to some degrees, effective for MTN. If numbness, dysesthesia, and anesthesia dolorosa are limited to the trigger area, QOL will be greatly improved.