Balloon Compression for Trigeminal Neuralgia
Balloon compression is a surgical procedure used to treat trigeminal neuralgia, a chronic pain condition that affects the face. Patients with trigeminal neuralgia can experience extreme but sporadic shock-like pain in the cheeks or jaw that makes it difficult to eat and drink.
The purpose of this procedure is to compress the trigeminal nerve to disrupt the pathway that causes the pain. The procedure is done under general anesthesia. Under X-ray control, a needle is introduced through your cheek into the trigeminal nerve, using an opening in your skull called the foramen ovale. A balloon is expanded and compresses the nerve. You are asleep when this happens.
Many patients will find that their facial pain disappears immediately after the balloon procedure. The pain-free period varies from person to person, but half the people will still be pain-free for years.
Most patients will experience some degree of facial numbness after the procedure. This should decrease over time. The numbness indicates the nerve has been successfully damaged to prevent trigeminal neuralgia pain from reaching the brain, which is the aim of the surgery.