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J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2016 Jul;74(7):1323-9. doi: 10.1016/j.joms.2016.02.005. Epub 2016 Feb 18.

Factors Determining Outcome After Trigeminal Nerve Surgery for Neuropathic Pain.

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Chairman, Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery; Professor, Departments of Surgery and Neurology and Neurotherapuetics, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, TX. Electronic address:
Fellow, Craniofacial Surgery, Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, Shreveport, LA.



Most patients who seek relief from trigeminal neuropathic pain by trigeminal microneurosurgery techniques do not show permanent pain relief after surgery. However, a small number of patients have permanent relief after surgery. The objective of this study was to determine factors that might be associated with the resolution, decrease, or recurrence of neuropathic pain after trigeminal nerve surgery in those patients who present with neuropathic pain before surgery.


An ambispective study design was used to assess patients who underwent trigeminal nerve repair of the inferior alveolar and lingual nerve who had documented neuropathic pain before surgery from 2006 through 2014. The primary endpoint was the difference in pain intensity at 3, 6, and 12 months after surgery compared with presurgical intensity levels. Explanatory variables, including age at surgery, gender, site of nerve injury, etiology of nerve injury, classification of nerve injury, duration from injury to repair, health comorbidities, and type of repair performed, were evaluated as potential factors in the outcomes. Wilcoxon signed rank analysis was used to compare demographic and injury characteristics of patients who had pain relief, partial pain relief, and no pain relief after surgery. Two-way analysis of variance and logistic regression analysis were used to evaluate the association between neuropathic pain and the explanatory variables.


Twenty-eight patients met the inclusion criteria. Three cohorts of patients were identified and analyzed. The no-recurrence cohort included 7 patients who had neuropathic pain before surgery that was resolved with surgery. The complete-recurrence (CR) cohort included 10 patients who had neuropathic pain before surgery and complete recurrence of pain intensity after surgery. The incomplete-recurrence (ICR) cohort included 11 patients who had neuropathic pain before surgery and partial recurrence of pain intensity after surgery. There was no statistical difference in preoperative pain intensity levels among the 3 cohorts (P = .16), but there were statistical differences at 3 months (P = .007), 6 months (P < .0001), and 12 months (P < .0001). There were no statistical differences between the CR and ICR cohorts at 3 months (P = .502), 6 months (P = .1), and 12 months (P = .2). There was no effect by age, gender, injury type, Sunderland classification, injury etiology, duration from injury to repair, health comorbidity, or repair type on the outcome.


The recurrence of neuropathic pain after trigeminal nerve repair for neuropathic pain is likely multifactorial and might not depend on factors that normally affect sensory recovery in patients who have no neuropathic pain (ie, age, duration of injury, type of injury, or repair type) and undergo trigeminal nerve surgery. These differences indicate that the understanding of trigeminal neuropathic pain is incomplete. Predictive outcomes of treatment will probably improve when the etiology is better defined to allow target- and site-specific treatment. In the meantime, trigeminal nerve surgery is a treatment option that offers a chance of decreasing or resolving pain intensity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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