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Nonsurgical Gamma-knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery Benefits Patients with Facial Nerve Disorder

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Research conducted by the Beaumont Health System radiation oncologists and neurosurgeons discovered that symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia, or TN, a nerve disorder causing extreme facial pain, was significantly decreased in patients treated with Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery. The results have since been published recently in the journal Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery.

TN is a disorder of the trigeminal nerve, which is in charge for feeling in the face. In most cases, the facial pain is caused by a blood vessel putting pressure on the nerve by pressing on it. It is believed that TN is a result of deterioration of the protective covering of the trigeminal nerve.


"The Gamma Knife is not actually a knife. Gamma Knife stereotactic radiosurgery is a nonsurgical technique that precisely delivers a high dose of radiation to a targeted area. It sends more than 200 beams of gamma radiation, while the low intensity of the individual beams avoids causing damage to the surrounding tissues,” said radiation oncologist, Beaumont Hospital, Royal Oak and associate professor, Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine, Inga Grills, M.D.


In addition to serving as principal investigator, Grills and a team of Beaumont researchers analyzed data of 149 patients who were treated with Gamma Knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery, or GK SRS.gamma knife


After the treatment, patients were assessed in a period of two weeks, then every three to six months. Patients reported if they experienced normal, decreased or no facial pain. Researchers concluded GK SRS provides satisfactory relief for those with TN, particularly those who are not fitted or have failed medical or surgical treatments.


"This study demonstrates patients with severe facial pain caused by trigeminal neuralgia will experience less discomfort after Gamma Knife Stereotactic Radiosurgery. They can resume daily activities such as brushing their teeth, washing their face and even smiling, without the unbearable sensation that is often caused by this condition," explains Grills.


According to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, roughly 150,000 people are diagnosed with TN on an annual basis. Women over the age of 50 are among those who are most commonly diagnosed. Those at risk are people with high-blood pressure or with multiple sclerosis.  

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