Ahead of Print: Clinical Significance of Invasive Motor Cortex Stimulation for Trigeminal Facial Neuropathic Pain Syndromes

BACKGROUND: Invasive neuromodulation of the cortical surface for various chronic pain syndromes has been performed for >20 years. The significance of motor cortex stimulation (MCS) in chronic trigeminal neuropathic pain (TNP) syndromes remains unclear. Different techniques are performed worldwide in regard to operative procedure, stimulation parameters, test trials, and implanted materials.

OBJECTIVE: To present the clinical experiences of a single center with MCS, surgical approach, complications, and follow-up as a prospective, noncontrolled clinical trial.

METHODS: The implantation of epidural leads over the motor cortex was performed via a burr hole technique with neuronavigation and intraoperative neurostimulation. Special focus was placed on a standardized test trial with an external stimulation device and the implementation of a double-blinded or placebo test phase to identify false-positive responders.

RESULTS: A total of 36 patients with TNP were operated on, and MCS was performed. In 26 of the 36 patients (72%), a significant pain reduction from a mean of 8.11 to 4.58 (on the visual analog scale) during the test trial was achieved (P < .05). Six patients were identified as false-positive responders (17%). At the last available follow-up of 26 patients (mean, 5.6 years), active MCS led to a significant pain reduction compared with the preoperative pain ratings (mean visual analog scale score, 5.01; P < .05).

CONCLUSION: MCS is an additional therapeutic option for patients with refractory chronic TNP, and significant long-term pain suppression can be achieved. Placebo or double-blinded testing is mandatory.

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