What is microvascular decompression?

The cure for trigeminal neuralgia, the treatment of the underlying cause, involves a neurosurgical procedure called MVD, or microvascular decompression. This is a microneurosurgical operation, and it involves making a small opening in the skull about the size of a quarter and working through that with the surgical microscope to identify the artery that's pressing on the trigeminal nerve. We move it aside, relieve the pressure and then put a pad in there so that the artery cannot return to compress the trigeminal nerve. We move the superior cerebellar artery aside. That takes the pressure off the nerve, and over time, the nerve will heal itself. The insulation of the individual nerve fibers will be restored, the nerve function will come back to normal, and the pain will end.

We generally use a Teflon pad that's pretty inert and doesn’t react with the body. This is generally the surgical procedure involved to treat trigeminal neuralgia. In our experience, more than 90% of patients experience complete or near-complete relief right after the surgery. The relief of the pain is maintained in about 65% or 75% of patients even out at five and 10 years.

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