Chronic pain is a difficult thing to live with and can have a negative effect on a person’s overall quality of life. Chronic neuropathic facial pain, spinal cord trauma, post-stroke chronic pain, and trigeminal neuralgia are just some of the causes of chronic pain that many people must deal with.

While there are several non-surgical options for managing and reducing chronic pain, they may not always be effective or viable options for some. In these instances, cingulotomy may be able to provide the necessary relief for these individuals to help reduce their pain and improve their quality of life.

What is Cingulotomy?

Cingulotomy is a surgical treatment option for patients who suffer from treatment-resistant chronic pain. With most other pain treatment options, the goal is to interrupt the pain signals being sent to the brain.

With a cingulotomy, the goal is to reduce the “affective” component of pain. This refers to the emotional component of pain that can increase suffering. A Cingulotomy can help to reduce preoccupation with the pain being experienced and the anxiety that accompanies chronic pain. This neurosurgical procedure can also help to decrease the amount of pain medication patients need to manage their chronic pain which will help to reduce the risk of experiencing side effects related to these medications.

How Is a Cingulotomy Performed?

The portion of the brain that is associated with regulating emotions related to chronic pain is known as the anterior cingulate region which is part of the limbic system. Those who experience chronic pain associate certain emotions with the pain which worsens the suffering they experience as a result.

A cingulotomy is performed using IV sedation along with a local anesthetic.

During a cingulotomy, the anterior cingulate is targeted using a very precise probe. In order to ensure the probes are precisely targeting the anterior cingulate, a Leksell stereotactic frame is placed around the head. This will both ensure precision and prevent the patient’s head from moving throughout the treatment. An MRI will also be performed during placement for ensured accuracy.

Focused energy is emitted from the probe which then precisely creates a small lesion within the anterior cingulate. In order to ensure the safety of the patient and accuracy during the procedure, specialized monitoring is used during a cingulotomy to make sure the treatment is targeting the anterior cingulate and not damaging the surrounding brain tissue.

Is a Cingulotomy Right for Me?

Cingulotomy is one of the more invasive options for the treatment of chronic pain. The ideal candidates for cingulotomy are those who have tried all other non-surgical treatments and therapies but have not found relief from these options. If you have suffered from intense chronic pain for a period of or over six months, you may be a good candidate for cingulotomy.

Schedule a Consultation

The best way to determine if cingulotomy is the right choice for you is to schedule a consultation with a qualified neurosurgeon. As a renowned expert in the field of neurosurgery, Dr. Nader Pouratian has the knowledge and expertise needed to provide you with the surgical care you need.