Patients with the painful facial nerve disorder trigeminal neuralgia benefit from non-surgical Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery treatment a new study has shown.
The research was carried out by radiation oncologists and neurosurgeons from the Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine in Michigan, USA. They found that symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, a nerve disorder causing severe facial pain, were reduced in patients treated with Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery.
The disorder affects the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for feeling in the face. In most cases, the facial pain is caused by a blood vessel pressing on the nerve. It is believed that trigeminal neuralgia is caused by deterioration of the protective covering of the trigeminal nerve.
"The Gamma Knife is not actually a knife," says oncologist and associate professor Dr Inga Grills. "Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery is a nonsurgical technique that precisely delivers a high dose of radiation to a targeted area. It sends more than 200 beams of gamma radiation, while the low intensity of the individual beams avoids causing damage to the surrounding tissues."
Principal investigator Dr. Grills and her team analysed data of 149 patients who were treated with Gamma Knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery. Following the treatment, patients were evaluated at around two weeks, then every three to six months. Patients reported if they experienced normal, decreased or no facial pain. The researchers concluded that Gamma Knife provides acceptable relief for people with trigeminal neuralgia, especially those who are not suitable or have failed medical or surgical treatments.
"This study demonstrates patients with severe facial pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia will experience less discomfort after Gamma Knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery. They can resume daily activities such as brushing their teeth, washing their face and even smiling, without the unbearable sensation that is often caused by this condition," explains Dr. Grills.
Women over the age of 50 are among those who are most commonly diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia.
The results of the study were published recently in the journal Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery.