Relieving Face Pain
A new Mayo Clinic study found that posterior fossa exploration surgery provided significantly better pain relief than stereotactic radiosurgery for patients with trigeminal neuralgia. This study will be presented at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons Annual Meeting in San Diego on May 5, 2009. Trigeminal neuralgia is characterized by episodes of intense, stabbing, electric-shocklike pain in areas of the face which have branches of the trigeminal nerve (lips, eyes, nose, scalp, forehead, upper jaw and lower jaw). The trigeminal nerve carries sensation from the face to the brain. In trigeminal neuralgia, the nerve function is disrupted. Approximately 15,000 patients are diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia each year in the U.S. Medical therapy eliminates or significantly reduces the pain for 75 percent of patients with trigeminal neuralgia, but the effectiveness generally decreases over time and surgery becomes necessary for patients to maintain their quality of life, says Bruce Pollock, M.D., a neurosurgeon at Mayo Clinic and the lead author of this study.