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Medicine (Baltimore). 2016 Jul;95(29):e4274. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000004274.

Treatment of bilateral idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia by radiofrequency thermocoagulation at different temperatures.

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aDepartment of Pain Management, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang. bDepartment of Pain Management, Daqing Oilfield General Hospital, Daqing cDepartment of Radiology, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China.


Radiofrequency thermocoagulation (RFT) is an effective treatment for trigeminal neuralgia, but consensus regarding an optimal treatment temperature is lacking. While treatment temperatures ranging from 60°C to 95°C have been reported, RFT at too high a temperature is often followed by serious complications, and comparative evaluations of RFT at different temperatures in a single study are rare.This current prospective cohort study was to compare immediate and long-term outcomes of RFT at varying temperatures in patients with bilateral idiopathic trigeminal neuralgia (ITN) of maxillary division of trigeminal nerve (V2), mandibular division of trigeminal nerve (V3), and V2+V3, including pain relief, complications, recurrence rate, and patient satisfaction. From May 2011 to April 2016, 62 consecutive patients with bilateral ITN of V2, V3, and V2+V3 were enrolled in the study. These patients underwent bilateral RFT at 68°C and 75°C, respectively, using the same RF parameters. Side-to-side results, including pain relief, complications, and patient satisfaction, were compared during a 5-year follow-up period.Overall pain relief was satisfactory after RFT. The rate of pain relief after treatment at 75°C was slightly higher than at 68°C (P > 0.05). The pain-free rate was 95.1% at 75°C and 93.5% at 68°C at 1 year, 84.3% and 78.1% at 3 years, and 80.7% and 74.4% at 5 years. There were 10 and 13 cases of recurrence, respectively, and 6 cases of bilateral recurrence. The incidence and severity of complications were greater at 75°C (P < 0.05) than at 68°C, and therefore the patient satisfaction at the higher temperature was lower (P < 0.05).Patients with bilateral ITN who underwent RFT at different temperatures had consistent pain relief after RFT at both 75°C and 68°C, but there were fewer and less severe complications at 68°C, which was accompanied by greater patient satisfaction. This suggests that RFT at lower temperatures may be preferable, and that a temperature of 68°C can be recommended.

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