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      Pharmacological versus microvascular decompression approaches for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia: clinical outcomes and direct costs

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          Abstract

          In idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia (TN) the neuroimaging evaluation is usually normal, but in some cases a vascular compression of trigeminal nerve root is present. Although the latter condition may be referred to surgery, drug therapy is usually the first approach to control pain. This study compared the clinical outcome and direct costs of (1) a traditional treatment (carbamazepine [CBZ] in monotherapy [CBZ protocol]), (2) the association of gabapentin (GBP) and analgesic block of trigger-points with ropivacaine (ROP) (GBP+ROP protocol), and (3) a common TN surgery, microvascular decompression of the trigeminal nerve (MVD protocol). Sixty-two TN patients were randomly treated during 4 weeks (CBZ [n = 23] and GBP+ROP [n = 17] protocols) from cases of idiopathic TN, or selected for MVD surgery (n = 22) due to intractable pain. Direct medical cost estimates were determined by the price of drugs in 2008 and the hospital costs. Pain was evaluated using the Numerical Rating Scale (NRS) and number of pain crises; the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, Sickness Impact Profile, and satisfaction with treatment and hospital team were evaluated. Assessments were performed at day 0 and 6 months after the beginning of treatment. All protocols showed a clinical improvement of pain control at month 6. The GBP+ROP protocol was the least expensive treatment, whereas surgery was the most expensive. With time, however, GBP+ROP tended to be the most and MVD the least expensive. No sequelae resulted in any patient after drug therapies, while after MDV surgery several patients showed important side effects. Data reinforce that, (1) TN patients should be carefully evaluated before choosing therapy for pain control, (2) different pharmacological approaches are available to initiate pain control at low costs, and (3) criteria for surgical interventions should be clearly defined due to important side effects, with the initial higher costs being strongly reduced with time.

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          Most cited references 25

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          Influence of nerve radiation dose in the incidence of trigeminal dysfunction after trigeminal neuralgia radiosurgery.

          The authors conducted a comparative study to analyze dosimetry and results to understand the significant difference in the rate of trigeminal dysfunction after gamma knife radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia between two centers using the same target. The data of 358 patients (109 patients from Brussels and 259 patients from Marseilles) were analyzed. Three different dosimetric strategies were found: treatment with less than 90 Gy and no selective beam channel blocking (Group 1; patients from Marseilles only), treatment with 90 Gy and no selective beam channel blocking (Group 2; patients from Brussels and Marseilles), or treatment with 90 Gy and use of selective beam channel blocking (Group 3; patients from Brussels only). The prescription dose and the use of selective beam channel blocking have been significantly associated with a higher energy received by the retrogasserian trigeminal nerve root. The different radiation dose delivered to the nerve root in these three groups of patients was significantly associated with the incidence of mild (15, 21, and 49% for Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively) and bothersome (1.4, 2.4, and 10% for Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively) trigeminal dysfunction. The good and excellent rates of pain relief were 81 and 66%, respectively, for Group 1, 85 and 77%, respectively, for Group 2, and 90 and 84%, respectively, for Group 3, and were also related to the amount of energy received by nerve root volume. Using a similar target, the incidence of trigeminal dysfunction and the pain relief rate can vary according to the radiation energy received by the retrogasserian part of the trigeminal nerve root. The prescription dose and the use of beam channel blocking modify the integrated dose delivered to the nerve and may contribute to the different rates of trigeminal numbness and pain outcome. The radiobiological effect of gamma knife radiosurgery may be related to the energy delivered to nerve root volume, rather than to the maximal dose delivered.
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            Brainstem and trigeminal nerve changes after radiosurgery for trigeminal pain.

            To evaluate the significance of radiological changes on follow-up MRIs after SRS for TN. Thirty-seven patients with follow-up MRI because of paresthesias, bilateral treatment, or failure were analyzed regarding pain outcome and complications. Mean age was 64.4 years; 14 underwent previous treatment. Twenty-nine had ETN, 5 secondary TN due to tumor or multiple sclerosis, and 3 had atypical TN. Ninety gray was prescribed for 20 patients, 70 Gy for 5, and 80/85 Gy for 2. A 5-mm collimator was used in 32 (88.9%) cases. Mean follow-up was 15 months (range, 4-52 months). Excellent/good pain relief was sustained in 67% of cases at 13 months' follow-up. Enhancement on MRIs was observed in 21 cases (56.75%) with nerve enhancement in 9, pons enhancement in 4, pons-nerve enhancement in 4, and tumor enhancement in 4. Magnetic resonance images were unremarkable in 16 cases. Pain recurred in 4 cases (5.5-10 months). Pons enhancement correlated with pain relief (P = .0087) but not with nerve enhancement (P = .22). Incidence of slight paresthesias was 66.6%. No anesthesia dolorosa or ophthalmologic problems were observed. Paresthesias correlated with enhancement (P = .02), but not with brainstem volume encompassed by the 20%, 30%, and 50% isodoseline (P = .689, .525, .908). Enhancement free probability at 12 months was 48.5% (Kaplan-Meier). Pons enhancement seems to be prognostic for pain relief without higher incidence of complications. Pons volume irradiated did not predict enhancement occurrence. Radiation delivery to the brainstem-REZ interface seems to improve pain outcome, although more paresthesias should be expected.
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              Neurovascular relationship at the trigeminal root entry zone in persistent idiopathic facial pain: findings from MRI 3D visualisation.

              Patients with atypical neuralgia or atypical facial pain have been surgically treated with microvascular decompression (MVD) of the trigeminal root entry zone (TREZ). There are no data regarding the sensitivity and specificity of a vessel-TREZ relationship as a cause of pain in patients with persistent idiopathic facial pain (PIFP) according to the definition given by the International Headache Society (IHS). The TREZ was visualised by 3D CISS MRI in 12 patients with unilateral PIFP according to the IHS criteria. The frequency of artery-TREZ, vein-TREZ, or vessel (artery/vein)-TREZ contacts on the symptomatic and asymptomatic sides did not differ significantly. On the symptomatic side, vessel-TREZ contact was found in 58% of patients (sensitivity). On the asymptomatic side, vessel-TREZ contact was absent in 33% of patients (specificity). On the basis of the low sensitivity and specificity found in the present study, PIFP cannot be attributed to a vessel-TREZ contact, and therefore, pain relief after MVD cannot be expected.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                J Pain Res
                Journal of Pain Research
                Dove Medical Press
                1178-7090
                2011
                24 August 2011
                : 4
                : 233-244
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (IC VS), School of Health Sciences, Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
                [2 ]Hospital Center of Alto Ave, Unit of Fafe, Fafe, Portugal
                [3 ]Department of Neurosurgery, Hospital São Marcos
                [4 ]Products and Systems Engineering, Campus de Azurém, University of Minho, Guimarães, Portugal
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Armando Almeida, Life and Health Sciences Research Institute (ICVS), School of Health Sciences, Campus de Gualtar, University of Minho, 4710-057 Braga – Portugal, Tel +351-253-604808, Fax +351-253-604809, Email aalmeida@ 123456ecsaude.uminho.pt
                Article
                jpr-4-233
                10.2147/JPR.S20555
                3176140
                21941455
                © 2011 Lemos et al, publisher and licensee Dove Medical Press Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Original Research

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