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Trigeminal neuralgia secondary to multiple sclerosis: from the clinical picture to the treatment options.

Review article
Di Stefano G, et al. J Headache Pain. 2019.

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Trigeminal neuralgia is one of the most characteristic and difficult to treat neuropathic pain conditions in patients with multiple sclerosis. The present narrative review addresses the current evidence on diagnostic tests and treatment of trigeminal neuralgia secondary to multiple sclerosis.

METHODS: We searched for relevant papers within PubMed, EMBASE and the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, taking into account publications up to December 2018.

RESULTS: Trigeminal neuralgia secondary to multiple sclerosis manifests with facial paroxysmal pain triggered by typical manoeuvres; neurophysiological investigations and MRI support the diagnosis, providing the definite evidence of trigeminal pathway damage. A dedicated MRI is required to identify pontine demyelinating plaques. In many patients with multiple sclerosis, neuroimaging and surgical evidence suggests that neurovascular compression might act in concert with the pontine plaque through a double-crush mechanism. Although no placebo-controlled trials have been conducted in these patients, according to expert opinion the first-line therapy for trigeminal neuralgia secondary to multiple sclerosis relies on sodium-channel blockers, i.e. carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine. The sedative and motor side effects of these drugs frequently warrant an early consideration for neurosurgery. Surgical procedures include Gasserian ganglion percutaneous techniques, gamma knife radiosurgery and microvascular decompression in the posterior fossa.

CONCLUSIONS: The relatively poor tolerability of the centrally-acting drugs carbamazepine and oxcarbazepine highlights the need to develop new selective and better-tolerated sodium-channel blockers. Prospective studies based on more advanced neuroimaging techniques should focus on how trigeminal anatomical abnormalities may be able to predict the efficacy of microvascular decompression.

PMID

30782116 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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