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What is the downside of focused radiation therapy for trigeminal neuralgia?

The downside of focused radiation therapy for trigeminal neuralgia is it takes a while for it to start to work. About 85% of people respond to this treatment and have a reduction in pain or can reduce their medications afterward. Over the longer term, a significantly higher number of people end up with permanent numbness of the face than with the open surgery. The pain returns in about half the people over five to 10 years.

The long-term success rate is not quite as good; there's a higher chance of having permanent numbness in the face. When we say numbness, we’re talking about Novocain-like numbness after you go to the dentist, a wooden or dead feeling in the skin. Not tingling numbness, but that complete lack of sensation. A certain number of people find the numbness quite bothersome. That can be an undesirable side effect of the stereotactic radiosurgery.

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