Current Issue - December 2021 - Vol 24 Issue 8


  1. 2021;24;E1263-E1271Long-term Follow-up of Pulsed Radiofrequency Treatment for Trigeminal Neuralgia: Kaplan-Meier Analysis in a Consecutive Series of 149 Patients
    Retrospective Study
    Jia Zipu, MD, Ren Hao, MD, Zhao Chunmei, MD, Meng Lan, MD, Shen Ying, MD, and Luo Fang, MD, PhD.

BACKGROUND: At present, there is no ideal method for the treatment of trigeminal neuralgia (TN). The need for an easy, safe, non- or micro-neurodestructive, repeatable treatment, with a fairly satisfactory rate of pain relief, is paramount. Pulsed radiofrequency (PRF) as a minimally invasive and microdestructive technique has been reported to be an option for TN; however, no study has reported the long-term outcome of TN in a large case series.

OBJECTIVES: We aimed to investigate the efficacy, safety, and the long-term outcomes of PRF treatment for patients with TN.

STUDY DESIGN: This was a long-term, large case series, retrospective study.

SETTING: The study was conducted at Tiantan hospital,Beijing.

METHODS: We retrospectively analyzed medical databases and follow-up data of 149 patients with TN from January 2008 through March 2021, who underwent PRF treatment, with a median follow-up time of 71.0 months (interquartile range, 20.0 months to 112.0 months). Baseline characteristics and intraoperative data of patients were retrospectively extracted; data about complications and side effects were also collected. The follow-up data were composed of the postoperative Barrow Neurological Institute Pain Intensity Score  pain intensity at a different time, the onset time of PRF treatment, and the time when pain was recurrent.

RESULTS: The initial pain relief rate was 75.17% after the procedure. The cumulative recurrence-free survival after the procedure was 75.00% at one month; 72.87% at 6 months; 70.59% at 12 months; 65.39% at 24 months; 61.63% 48 months; 56.73% at 96 months; and 49.64% at 144 months. The median recurrence-free time was 118 months according to the Kaplan-Meier estimator. Nineteen patients had pain recurrence with a median time of 15 months (range, 1.0 months to 96.0 months), among whom, 12 underwent a second PRF procedure and 9 patients experienced satisfactory pain relief. No serious complications or side effects occurred after the procedure.

LIMITATIONS: This was a single-center, retrospective study. Our study failed to conduct a stratified analysis on the effect of PRF treatment for classic and idiopathic TN. The most efficacious parameters of PRF applied for TN and studies trying to identify positive predictive factors of pain relief before PRF treatment have yet to be investigated.

CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study show the promising long-term effect of PRF on primary TN. The safety and repeatability might be more easily accepted by patients with TN and should be considered a preferred treatment option before choosing neurodestructive or more invasive methods.

KEY WORDS: Trigeminal neuralgia, pulsed radiofrequency, long-term follow up, Kaplan-Meier analysis