This procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia followed by an overnight stay in the hospital. The surgeon advances a large-caliber needle to the area of the Gasserian ganglion and confirms the correct positioning of the needle.

Once in the correct position a small thin catheter with a balloon on the end is threaded through the needle. The needle is inflated with enough pressure to damage the nerve and block the pain signals. Pain relief is almost immediate. Some facial numbness may occur and temporary weakness in the muscles for chewing may be experienced.

Decompression refers to a surgical procedure that alleviates pain from a pinched nerve in the spine, which may be caused by conditions like spinal stenosis, spondylolisthesis or a herniated disc. During decompression surgery, more space is provided for the nerve root to heal by removing a portion of the vertebrae that is putting pressure on it. Learn more about spinal decompression surgery, including microdiscectomy and laminectomy

The technique of percutaneous balloon compression for treatment of trigeminal neuralgia is demonstrated by using embedded audiovisual kernels. A text-based description with linked images is also provided to accomodate varying computer hardware capabilities. A new needle system for guiding the balloon catheter to the entrance of Meckel’s cave and a balloon pressure monitoring system for the procedure is described and demonstrated. Results from a series of 141 consecutive patients treated during the period between 1983 and 1995 indicate an initial success rate of 92%. Fifty-seven percent of patients have postoperative numbness, which is described as mild to moderate by 94% of them.

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Sixteen percent have ipsilateral masseterpterygoid weakness after compression. The overall recurrence rate is 26%. A KaplanMeier survival curve indicates that 60% of patients are pain free 8 years after surgery without recurrence requiring reoperation. The recurrence rate does not significantly differ from patients with first division pain to patients without first division involvement. An absent corneal reflex has not occurred, nor has anesthesia dolorosa. Balloon compression injures the myelinated fibers that mediate the “trigger” to the lancinating pain of trigeminal neuralgia. Because the corneal reflex is mediated by unmyelinated fibers, selective, monitored compression of myelinated fibers should preserve the corneal reflex when first division pain is present.