Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day: Treating with Surgery vs. CyberKnife

Trigeminal Neuralgia Awareness Day is honored nationally on October 7 with the goal of raising awareness for the excruciating nerve disorder known as the “suicide disease.” Occurring when a blood vessel compresses the fifth cranial nerve, the disease causes unpredictable facial pain that can make every day tasks such as chewing or talking difficult.

While traditionally treated with medication, patients experiencing advanced trigeminal neuralgia may require or request additional treatment for pain relief. In these cases, doctors may suggest surgery or stereotactic radiosurgery. During surgery, the compressed nerve is accessed through small holes created in the skull to release the pressure and reduce pain-causing nerve signals. Patients often experience immediate pain relief upon recovery. Full recovery from surgery can take several weeks depending on the overall health of the patient.

Patients looking for a noninvasive approach often look to stereotactic radiosurgery. St. Louis CyberKnife delivers this treatment using CyberKnife® technology. During treatment, radiation is precisely focused and delivered to a segment of the trigeminal nerve to interrupt pain-causing fibers. CyberKnife is unique from other radiosurgery systems in that it does not require the use of a metal head frame to secure the patient to the treatment table and instead uses a mesh mask across the face.

The majority of patients treated with CyberKnife experience significant and lasting pain relief. CyberKnife treatment for trigeminal neuralgia is usually a one-time outpatient procedure lasting about an hour.

If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from trigeminal neuralgia, please contact us.

This is not intended as medical advice to replace the expertise and judgment of your health care team. It is intended to help you and your family make informed decisions, together with your doctor.