Microvascular Decompression for Trigeminal Neuralgia and Hemifacial Spasm

Microvascular decompression surgery for trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm is a low-risk treatment option for cranial nerve hyperactivity-compression syndromes that is often associated with severe facial pain. The surgery is designed to relieve abnormal compression of a cranial nerve.

Medication is often prescribed to treat the condition, but when medication fails microvascular decompression surgery is an common option.

The low-risk surgery involves opening the skull and exposing the nerve at the base of the brainstem. The surgery consists of a one-inch incision made in the occipital bone with a drill, which exposes the protective covering of the brain called the dura. The dura is opened with surgical scissors and folded back to expose the brain.

The surgeon exposes the trigeminal nerve and identifies any offending vessel causing compression and carefully inserts a tiny sponge between the compressing vessel and the nerve. This sponge isolates the nerve from the pulsating effect and pressure of the blood vessel.

By removing the compression with the sponge, the painful symptoms are relieved. After the surgery you will be transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) for close observation overnight. In 1 to 2 days you’ll be released from the hospital and given discharge instructions.