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How is radiosurgery used to treat trigeminal neuralgia?

The other main sort of treatment that we use for trigeminal neuralgia is what's called radiosurgery. This is not the radiation therapy that one is used to thinking about, a large area of the brain treated with radiation therapy beams. This is a laser-like, very fine-focused beam of radiation, or several of them, that intersect on the nerve to cause an injury, a controlled discrete injury to the nerve.

It's an outpatient procedure. It takes one treatment, and generally, it's done with a device called a gamma knife, with intersecting beams. Now it's done with a linear accelerator, a Novalis unit, or a cyberknife; all of these are robotic-like devices that direct a beam of radiation therapy very precisely right on the trigeminal nerve. We see a spot on the nerve that is hit, which causes an injury and an injury response, which often resolves the trigeminal neuralgia.

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