Most sufferers with trigeminal neuralgia have heard of the surgical treatment, Microvascular Decompression (MVD for short), but fewer know about percutaneous balloon compression.
I can speak from first-hand experience of both procedures, and of the success with the latter. That is, I remain pain and medication free after five and a half years since a simple and fast balloon compression procedure crushed my trigeminal nerve. But I have always wondered and worried that the pain may return. To date I am extremely happy with the situation as are others I know who have undertaken this procedure.
The article ‘Factors that may affect recurrence of trigeminal neuralgia after percutaneous balloon compression’, was researched and written by Wenming Lv, Wenjing Hu, Lingyi Chi, and Liangwen Zhang and published in Journal of Clinical Neuroscience Volume 99, May 2022, Pages 248-252, can be read here
If you are considering asking for a Balloon Compression procedure, be aware there are risks and side-effects and that your research should be thorough. You need to trust that your neurosurgeon has considerable experience with this procedure, and has informed you of all aspects.
One of the possible side-effects about which I was warned, was that I might have some or a lot of facial numbness on the affected side of my face. I did have numbness on half an eyelid, half my nose and half the top of my upper lip. In the above article the finding was that numbness, on average, disappeared around three years. That is about right for me, although on rare occasions in the past couple of years I have a sense of it in my upper lip and nose. I am delighted to report that the numbness never caused my face to slump or change and has never been visible, it has always been mild, and it has never inconvenienced me. Having said this, each person is different and the results for another could be dramatically different – so please gather all information from a knowledgeable professional if considering this. For me, losing the pain and reliance on medication was worth some numbness. I was fortunate to be able to reclaim my life.
Collecting information about TN patients – by Helen Tyzack
When visiting my GP, my neurologists and neurosurgeon I have been asked all manner of questions. After trying out a new medication my GP has asked ‘how are you?’. My responses were usually phrases such as, ‘I didn’t have any side effects’, or ‘it made me dizzy’, or ‘I am putting on weight’.
Immediately after surgical procedures I was asked ‘how are you feeling’ and my responses confirmed their thoughts that the procedures/operations had been a success – because in that moment I felt terrific. Apart from anything, coming out of a general anaesthetic I was so pleased to be alive still.
Days after such meetings, the situation changed and my emotional state was never explored. Presumably cursory snap judgements have been made by all of these members of the medical professions, and their time constraints prevent them following up. It is commonly accepted, at least in the circles in which I move, that poor emotional health can weaken your body’s immune system. On this basis I hope to force a change next time I am with a medical professional when obtaining help for my trigeminal neuralgia, and tell them how I am really feeling not just the superficial responses I have given previously.
With this in mind I found the following article to be telling. While this scientific paper may be difficult to understand at least in places, the conclusion which the researchers arrived at is clear:
Patients and clinicians currently have no reliable way of comparing outcomes in TN especially between medical or surgical treatments. Trials of medical therapies are said to be positive if 50% of patients are pain free, whereas surgical outcomes require 100% pain relief if they are said to be successful.
A summary of their results where n means number, provided:
Most studies collected data on pain (n = 459) and side effects (n = 386) domains; however, very few collected data on the impact of treatment on physical (n = 46) and emotional functioning (n = 17) and on patient satisfaction (n = 35). There was high variability on outcome measures used for pain relief (n = 10), pain intensity (n = 9), and frequency of pain episodes (n = 3).
The full article can be downloaded from link below
Treatment Outcomes in Trigeminal Neuralgia–A Systematic Review of Domains, Dimensions and Measures’ by Carolina Venda Nova, Joanna M. Zakrzewska, Sarah R Baker and Richeal Ni Riordain