Microvascular Decompression for Treatment of Trigeminal Neuralgia in Patient with Facial Nerve Schwannoma

John P. Marinelli, Jamie J. Van Gompel, Michael J. Link, Matthew L. Carlson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Secondary trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is uncommon. When a space-occupying lesion with mass effect is identified, the associated TN is often exclusively attributed to the tumor. This report illustrates the importance of considering coexistent actionable pathology when surgically treating secondary TN. Case Description: A 51-year-old woman presented with abrupt-onset TN of the V2 and V3 nerve divisions with hypesthesia. She denied changes in hearing, balance, or facial nerve dysfunction. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed a 1.6-cm contrast-enhancing cerebellopontine angle tumor that effaced the trigeminal nerve, consistent with a vestibular schwannoma. In addition, a branch of the superior cerebellar artery abutted the cisternal segment of the trigeminal nerve on T2-weighted thin-slice magnetic resonance imaging. Intraoperative electrical stimulation of the tumor elicited a response from the facial nerve at low threshold over the entire accessible tumor surface, indicating that the tumor was a facial nerve schwannoma. Considering the patient's lack of facial nerve deficit and that the tumor exhibited no safe entry point for intracapsular debulking, tumor resection was not performed. Working between the tumor and tentorium, a branch of the superior cerebellar artery was identified and decompressed with a Teflon pad. At last follow-up, the patient exhibited resolution of her TN. Her hearing and facial nerve function remained intact. Conclusions: Despite obstruction from a medium-sized tumor, it is still possible to achieve microvascular decompression of the fifth cranial nerve. This emphasizes the importance of considering other actionable pathology during surgical management of presumed tumor-induced TN. Further, TN is relatively uncommon with medium-sized vestibular schwannomas and coexistent causes should be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)142-145
Number of pages4
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - May 2018


  • Classic trigeminal neuralgia
  • Facial nerve schwannoma
  • Microvascular decompression
  • Secondary trigeminal neuralgia
  • Vestibular schwannoma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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