Microvascular Decompression

Conveniently Located to Serve Dallas, Fort Worth, and the entire State of Texas

Microvascular decompression is a surgical procedure that is designed to address the compression of a cranial nerve by a blood vessel. It is most commonly performed to treat trigeminal neuralgia, but can also be used for hemifacial spasm and glossopharyngeal neuralgia. Regardless of diagnosis, the procedure is relatively similar, with respect to the approach and potential complications.

Am I A Good Candidate for Microvascular Decompression?

While some people may be apprehensive about undergoing surgery, it is a highly effective option and considered the gold standard for surgical management of trigeminal neuralgia. The medications available for treating trigeminal neuralgia can provide relief, but over time they can become less effective and produce a number of unwanted side effects. While microvascular decompression is often the first line therapy, it can also the ideal option for individuals who have experienced a recurrence of nerve pain after undergoing other treatment options such as radiofrequency ablation or stereotactic radiosurgery.

What to Expect

A series of diagnostic tests will be performed prior to your procedure to ensure you are healthy enough to undergo the procedure. A list of preoperative instructions will be provided to help prepare you for the surgery. The instructions will include a list of medications and substances to avoid prior to your surgery.

General anesthesia will be administered. The area behind your ear will be prepped and cleaned so that a small incision can be made to allow access to the nerve and blood vessels. A microscope will be used to identify where the nerve is being compressed. Once the problem is identified, a small sponge will be inserted between the nerve and blood vessel to reduce pressure in the area. If the offending blood vessel cannot be identified the nerve may be massaged or partially cut in order to control the pain. The incision will then be sutured closed and covered in a soft dressing.

There is a 95% chance that the procedure will provide immediate pain relief. Up to 70% of patients who have undergone microvascular decompression experience no pain after 10 years. Roughly 10% to 15% of patients who undergo the procedure experience a recurrence of pain after two years.

There are some risks associated with  microvascular decompression, but the likelihood of experiencing a complication are very small. These risks include:

  • Infection (2%)
  • Facial sensory changes (5-10%)
  • Spinal fluid leak (5%)
  • Hearing loss (1%)
  • Stroke (<1%)

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