Radiosurgery Makes Waves

Radiosurgery effective for treating trigeminal neuralgia in multiple sclerosis patients

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Trigeminal neuralgia, a painful condition occurring in patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), can be effectively treated with stereotactic radiation (radiosurgery), a specialized radiation therapy that focuses radiation beams on a well-defined area.

MS, a progressive, neurodegenerative disease, affects about 300,000 Americans. In this autoimmune disease, the body's immune system attacks its own nerve cells, damaging the myelin sheath that covers nerves and resulting in scores of neurological complications and sometimes mild-to-severe impairment.

Dysfunction of the trigeminal nerve, one of the nerves that supplies nerves to the face, can result in the painful condition known as trigeminal neuralgia, common among MS patients.

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine looked at 13 MS patients over a median of 5 years, the longest follow-up ever completed of this type of study, to determine the long-term effects of treating trigeminal neuralgia with Gamma Knife radiosurgery.

Stereotactic radiation is normally used to treat brain tumors, but in this instance, doctors targeted a nerve root in the brain, using three-dimensional imaging to deliver the radiation dose with high accuracy.

Tejan Diwanji, lead author of the study, said more tests are needed to confirm the positive effects of this treatment, but encouraged MS patients with trigeminal neuralgia to talk with their doctor about consulting a radiation oncologist to see if they are a good candidate for radiosurgery.

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Review Date: 
January 4, 2011
Last Updated:
January 7, 2011