OBJECTIVE: To describe percutaneous balloon compression (PBC) of the trigeminal rootlets as treatment for trigeminal neuralgia (TN), including history, operative techniques, outcomes, side effects, and some recent findings increasing the likelihood of a positive outcome.
METHODS: PBC is indicated in patients with TN in whom microvascular decompression is considered less suitable. The procedure is simplified by the use of biplanar fluoroscopy, although it is usually carried out with C-arm fluoroscopy to facilitate the introduction of the needle and the visualization of the inflated catheter. In the right position, a clearly defined pear shape usually appears after injection of 0.5-0.7 mL of contrast material. The balloon is kept inflated for 1.5-3 minutes. It is crucial to obtain a pear shape because this probably is the most significant factor for obtaining good, long-lasting pain relief.
RESULTS: An analysis of 100 consecutive PBC procedures showed an initial success rate of 90% and a median pain-free time without medication of 28 months. Subdividing these patients into primary TN (n = 77) and TN secondary to multiple sclerosis (a = 23), the median pain-free times were 33 months and 24 months (P = 0.2), indicating that the outcome may depend on the preoperative conditions.
CONCLUSIONS: Complications and side effects include cardiovascular stress during the procedure, local hemorrhages in the cheek, postoperative sensory disturbance, masseter weakness, infections, and transitory diplopia after surgery. Measures to minimize side effects are proposed. With meticulous technique, PBC is a straightforward, effective, and fast procedure that compares well with other percutaneous therapies for TN.
2013. Vol. 79, no 2, 359-368 p.