Current Issue - May/June 2024 - Vol 27 Issue 4


  1. 2024;27;E395-E406Computed Tomography-Guided Radiofrequency Ablation for Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia: Comparison of Cervical Computed Tomography Angiography, Transverse Process of Atlas, and Styloid Process Localization to Styloid Process Localization Alone
    Prospective Study
    Lin Hui, MD, Wang Chu X, MD, Zhao Wei, MD, Ma Ying, MD, Liu Yong Q, MD, Lin Xiang H, MD, Huang Bing, MD, and Fang Xiang M, PhD.

BACKGROUND: Glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GPN) is a condition that causes simultaneous headache and facial pain. The treatment for GPN is similar to the treatment for trigeminal neuralgia. Craniotomy microvascular decompression (MVD) or radiofrequency (RF) therapy is needed if conservative treatment with oral drugs fails. Therefore, the choice of radiofrequency therapy target is essential when treating GPN. However, finding the glossopharyngeal nerve simply by styloid process positioning is challenging.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, clinical research study.

SETTING: Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Medical Center, Jiaxing, China.

OBJECTIVE: To compare the clinical effects of computed tomography (CT)-guided RF treatments on GPN when the triple localization of cervical CT, the transverse process of the atlas, and the styloid process is used to those achieved when the treatments are guided by the styloid process alone.

METHODS: From August 2016 to December 2019, 19 cases of GPN neuralgia were treated by radiofrequency under the guidance of CT guided by the styloid process only. (These patients comprised the single localization (SL) of styloid process group, in whom the target of the RF treatments was the posterior medial side of half of the styloid process). From January 2020 to December 2022, 16 cases of GPN were treated by RF under the guidance of CT with cervical CTA (CT angiography), the transverse process of the atlas, and the styloid process. (These patients were placed in the TL group, in whom the target of RF therapy was the gap between the internal carotid artery and the internal jugular vein behind the horizontal styloid process at the lower edge of the transverse process of the atlas). Two percent lidocaine was injected subcutaneously at the needle insertion site, and a stylet with a 21-gauge blunt RF needle (model: 240100, manufacturer: Englander Medical Technology Co., Ltd.) was slowly advanced toward the target. After that, an RF probe was introduced, then low (2 Hz)- and high (50 Hz)-frequency currents of the RF instrument (model: PMG-230, Canada Baylis company) were applied to stimulate. A successful test was defined as a 0.5-1.0 mA current stimulation that could induce the original pain area in the pharynx, the inner ear, or both, without any abnormal irritation of the vagus or accessory nerves. If the first test was unsuccessful, then in the SL group, the needle tip’s position was adjusted to the distal end of the styloid process, and in the triple localization (TL) group, the needle tip depth’s was fine-tuned. A continuous RF treatment was given after a successful test. The RF temperature was 95ºC for 180 seconds. The time that the first puncture reached the target, the puncture paths, the success rate of the first test, the time that the glossopharyngeal nerve was found, the frequency of adjustments to the position of the RF needle, the incidence of intraoperative and postoperative complications, and the therapeutic effects were recorded.

RESULTS: There were no significant differences in demographic data such as age, medical history, lateral classification, and pain score between the groups, but the TL group had a higher proportion of women than did the SL group. All patients’ puncture targets were identified according to the designed puncture path before the operation. There was no difference between the 2 groups in the time of the first puncture to the target (5.05 ± 1.22 vs. 5.82 ± 1.51, P = 0.18), and the designed puncture depth (3.65 ± 0.39 vs. 4.04 ± 0.44). The difference in puncture angles (13.48 ± 3.56 vs. 17.84 ± 3.98, P < 0.01) was statistically significant, and in 8 cases in the SL group, the glossopharyngeal nerve could not be found after 60 minutes of testing, so the RF treatment was terminated. Meanwhile, this problem occurred in only 2 cases in the TL group. There were 3 cervical hematoma cases and 2 cases of transient hoarseness and cough in the SL group, whereas the TL group had, respectively, 0 and one cases of those issues. There was no death in either group.

LIMITATIONS: More clinical data should be collected in future studies.

CONCLUSION: When using RF as a treatment for GPN, the glossopharyngeal nerve is easier to find by using the triple positioning of the cervical CTA, the transverse process of the atlas and the styloid process as the target to determine the anterior medial edge of the internal carotid artery behind the styloid process at the level of the lower edge of the atlas transverse process. The glossopharyngeal nerve is more difficult to locate when only the posterior medial edge of the styloid process is targeted. The single-time effective rate of 180 seconds of RF ablation at 90ºC for GPN can reach 87.5% (14/16), suggesting the treatment’s potential for clinical application.

KEY WORDS: Glossopharyngeal neuralgia, radiofrequency ablation, CT-guided, styloid process, atlas transverse process, cervical CTA