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Radiofrequency trigeminal rhizolysis for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia secondary to brainstem infarction. Report of two cases

Neurosurg Focus. 1997 Jan 15;2(1)
Foroohar M, Herman M, Heller S, Levy RM.
Departments of Surgery (Neurosurgery) and Neurology, Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, Illinois.

Although percutaneous radiofrequency trigeminal rhizolysis (RFL) has been used to treat idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia thought secondary to multiple sclerosis, the use of RFL for trigeminal neuralgia caused by brainstem infarction has not been advocated.

The authors report two patients with trigeminal neuralgia following pontine infarction in whom aggressive medical management failed, but who were successfully treated with RFL.

Pain relief has persisted for the 3- and 6-year duration of follow-up examinations.

Descending trigeminal reticular fibers may be affected by brainstem infarction and result in trigeminal neuralgia; thus, treatment by rhizotomy may be effective in decreasing the peripheral afferent input into the spinal trigeminal nucleus thus decreasing the pain.

These two cases demonstrate the utility of RFL in the relief of ischemia-induced trigeminal neuralgia and lead the authors to suggest that its use be broadened to include this indication.