Pain medicine (Malden, Mass.) 2017 05 02() doi 10.1093/pm/pnx088
Percutaneous radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the gasserian ganglion through the foramen ovale and the glossopharyngeal nerve at the jugular foramen is a classical approach to treating trigeminal neuralgia (TN) and glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN), respectively. However, it can be technically challenging with serious complications. We have thus developed a novel technique utilizing C-arm and computerized tomography (CT) guidance to block TN and GPN. Our goals were to describe a three-dimensional image-based technique to improve patient comfort and to decrease procedural time associated with needle guidance.
Consecutive procedures were reviewed.
Three patients with classical TN and GPN and 15 patients with atypical facial pain (AFP) were treated. Numeric rating scale (NRS) scores for pain at pretreatment and at one, three, and 12 months post-treatment were recorded. The primary clinical outcome (50% or more reduction in NRS) and secondary adverse clinical outcome (hematoma, facial numbness, etc.) were monitored.
We had a 100% technical success with respect to appropriate needle positioning. All three classical TN/GPN patients had both immediate and sustained pain relief. Complications were minimal. The 15 AFP patients, however, showed more variable results, with only five (33%) having sustained pain relief, while in the other 10 (67%) patients, we observed suboptimal response.
We present a novel method and single-center experience with C-arm and CT-guided RFA of facial pain. Quick and accurate needle placement will help future advancements in the RFA algorithm so that more durable and consistent effects can be attained, reducing uncertainty with respect to needle placement as a confounder. The RFA procedure in our study had a satisfying effect for classical TN/GPN patients but was less successful for AFP patients, though it did mirror the results from previous studies.
This study is limited by its small sample size and nonrandomized design.