Multiple sclerosis related trigeminal neuralgia (MS-TN) is a facial neuropathic pain syndrome similar to classic trigeminal neuralgia (TN). While TN is caused by neurovascular compression of the fifth cranial nerve (CN V), how MS-related demyelination correlates with pain in MS-TN is not understood.
3T MR diffusion weighted, T1, T2 and FLAIR sequences were acquired for MS-TN, TN, and controls. Multi-tensor tractography was used to delineate CN V across cisternal, root entry zone (REZ), pontine and peri-lesional segments. Diffusion metrics including fractional anisotropy (FA), and radial (RD), axial (AD), and mean diffusivities (MD) were measured from each segment.
CN V segments showed distinctive diffusivity patterns. The TN group showed higher FA in the cisternal segment ipsilateral to the side of pain, and lower FA in the ipsilateral REZ segment. The MS-TN group showed lower FA in the ipsilateral peri-lesional segments, suggesting differential microstructural changes along CN V in these conditions 1).