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Repeat Radiosurgery for Trigeminal Neuralgia

Repeat Gamma Knife radiosurgery (GKRS) for trigeminal neuralgia is an established option for patients whose pain has recurred after the initial procedure, with reported success rates varying from 68% to 95%. Predictive factors for response to the repeat GKRS are ill-defined.

Historically, 2 courses have been the limit in such patients. Only a small subset of patients have reportedly undergone more than two GKRS for TN; thus, further research and long-term clinical followup will be valuable in determining its usefulness in specific clinical situations 1).

Neither the Marseille study data nor literature data answer the 3 cardinal questions regarding repeat radiosurgery in recurrent trigeminal neuralgia: which patients to retreat, which target is optimal, and which dose to use 2).

Case series


This cohort study aimed to report the outcomes and factors predictive of success for patients who have undergone repeated GKRS for trigeminal neuralgia at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.

Between 1999 and 2013, 152 patients underwent repeat GKRS at Wake Forest, 125 of whom were available for long-term follow-up. A retrospective chart review and telephone interviews were conducted to determine background medical history, dosimetric data, outcomes, and adverse effects of the procedure.

Eighty-four percent of patients achieved at least Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) IIIb pain relief, with 46% achieving BNI I. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year rates of BNI I pain relief were 63%, 50%, and 37%, respectively. The 1-, 3-, and 5-year rates of BNI IIIb or better pain relief were 74%, 59%, and 46%, respectively. One patient experienced bothersome numbness and 2 patients developed anesthesia dolorosa. The dominant predictive factors for pain relief were facial numbness after the first GKRS and a positive pain response to the first GKRS.

Repeat GKRS is an effective method of treating recurrent trigeminal neuralgia. Patients who have facial numbness after the first treatment and a positive pain response to the first GKRS are significantly more likely to respond well to the second treatment 3).


The median time to retreatment in the Marseille study was 72 months (range 12-125 months) and in the literature it was 17 months (range 3-146 months). In the Marseille study, the median follow-up period was 33.9 months (range 12-96 months), and 8 of 9 patients (88.9%) had initial pain cessation with a median of 6.5 days (range 1-180 days). The actuarial rate for new hypesthesia was 33.3% at 6 months and 50% at 1 year, which remained stable for 7 years. The actuarial probabilities of maintaining pain relief without medication at 6 months and 1 year were 100% and 75%, respectively, and remained stable for 7 years. The systematic review analyzed 20 peer-reviewed studies reporting outcomes for repeat GKS for recurrent TN, with a total of 626 patients. Both the selection of the cases for retreatment and the way of reporting outcomes vary widely among studies, with a median rate for initial pain cessation of 88% (range 60%-100%) and for new hypesthesia of 33% (range 11%-80%).

Results from the Marseille study raise the question of surgical alternatives after failed GKS for TN. The rates of initial pain cessation and recurrence seem comparable to, or even better than, those of the first GKS, according to different studies, but toxicity is much higher, both in the Marseille study and in the published data. Neither the Marseille study data nor literature data answer the 3 cardinal questions regarding repeat radiosurgery in recurrent TN: which patients to retreat, which target is optimal, and which dose to use 4).


in 119 patients with recurrent TN. The median patient age was 74 years (range, 34-96 years). The median interval between procedures was 26 months. The median target dose for repeat GKSR was 70 Gy (range, 50-90 Gy) and the median cumulative dose was 145 Gy (range, 120-170 Gy). The median follow-up was 48 months (range, 6-187 months) after repeat GKSR. RESULTS: After repeat GKSR, 87% of patients achieved initial pain relief (Barrow Neurological Institute pain score I-IIIb). Pain relief was maintained in 87.8% at 1 year, 69.8% at 3 years, and 44.2% at 5 years. Facial sensory dysfunction occurred in 21% of patients within 18 months after GKSR. Longer pain relief was observed in patients who had recurrent pain in a reduced pain distribution of the face compared with the pain distribution at the time of their initial GKSR, and in those who developed additional trigeminal sensory loss after a repeat procedure. A cumulative edge of brainstem dose ≥ 44 Gy was more likely to be associated with the development of sensory loss. CONCLUSION: Repeat GKSR provides a similar rate of pain relief as the first procedure. The best responses were observed in patients who had good pain control after the first procedure and those who developed new sensory dysfunction in the affected trigeminal distribution. 5).

Case reports

a case of multiply recurrent trigeminal neuralgia treated with a third course of radiosurgery in which the patient had successful pain control and no additional toxicity. Meticulous attention to the therapeutic technique allows the continued application of stereotactic radiosurgery in patients 6).

Jones GC, Elaimy AL, Demakas JJ, Jiang H, Lamoreaux WT, Fairbanks RK, Mackay AR, Cooke BS, Lee CM. Feasibility of multiple repeat gamma knife radiosurgeries for trigeminal neuralgia: a case report and review of the literature. Case Rep Med. 2011;2011:258910. doi: 10.1155/2011/258910. Epub 2011 Sep 4. PubMed PMID: 21904556; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3166780.
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Tuleasca C, Carron R, Resseguier N, Donnet A, Roussel P, Gaudart J, Levivier M, Régis J. Repeat Gamma Knife surgery for recurrent trigeminal neuralgia: long-term outcomes and systematic review. J Neurosurg. 2014 Dec;121 Suppl:210-21. doi: 10.3171/2014.8.GKS141487. Review. PubMed PMID: 25434955.
Helis CA, Lucas JT Jr, Bourland JD, Chan MD, Tatter SB, Laxton AW. Repeat Radiosurgery for Trigeminal Neuralgia. Neurosurgery. 2015 Jul 24. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26214319.
Park KJ, Kondziolka D, Berkowitz O, Kano H, Novotny J Jr, Niranjan A, Flickinger JC, Lunsford LD. Repeat gamma knife radiosurgery for trigeminal neuralgia. Neurosurgery. 2012 Feb;70(2):295-305; discussion 305. doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e318230218e. PubMed PMID: 21811188.
Daugherty E, Bhavsar S, Hahn SS, Bassano D, Hall W. A successful case of multiple stereotactic radiosurgeries for ipsilateral recurrent trigeminal neuralgia. J Neurosurg. 2015 Jun;122(6):1324-9. doi: 10.3171/2014.9.JNS13959. Epub 2015 Mar 27. PubMed PMID: 25816083.
repeat_radiosurgery_for_trigeminal_neuralgia.txt · Last modified: 2016/01/05 01:57 (external edit)