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Does Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia Need Rhizotomy in Neurovascular Decompression Surgery?

Wang, Ji, MD; Yu, Rui, MD; Qu, Chuncheng, MD; Jiang, Jun, MD; Wang, Chengwei, MD; Meng, Qinghu, MD; Wei, Shengcheng, MD

doi: 10.1097/SCS.0000000000004856
Clinical Studies

Objective: To evaluate and compare the long-term efficacy and safety of microvascular decompression (MVD) and glossopharyngeal nerve roots rhizotomy (GNR) in the treatment of glossopharyngeal neuralgia (GN).

Patients and Methods: The data of 37 patients with glossopharyngeal neuralgia undergoing MVD alone and MVD + GNR from July 2004 to March 2017 were analyzed retrospectively. Among them, 22 were MVD alone and 15 were MVD + GNR. All patients underwent preoperative cocaine experiments to verify diagnoses, preoperative magnetic resonance imaging examinations to detect compressing vessels near the root entry zone of the glossopharyngeal nerve. Operation via retrosigmoid approach, keyhole craniotomy, and postoperative efficacy was followed up.

Results: Efficacy: In the 22 patients with MVD alone, 19 patients were cured and 3 patients improved. In the 15 patients with MVD + GNR, 14 patients were cured and 1 patient improved. There was no significant difference between the 2 groups (χ2 test, P > 0.05). Complications: Postoperative complications in MVD group: 2 patients had short-term hoarseness and drinking cough, 1 patient with cerebrospinal fluid leakage, 1 patient with intracranial infection, 1 patient with ipsilateral hearing loss, and no deaths; postoperative complications in MVD + GNR group: permanent hoarseness in 2 patients, short-term drinking cough and hoarseness in 4 patients, ipsilateral facial paralysis in 1 patient, 1 patient with cerebrospinal fluid leakage, no intracranial infection and death. The incidence of postoperative hoarseness and drinking cough in MVD + GNR group was higher than that in MVD group (χ2 test, P < 0.05).

Conclusion: The MVD alone was a safe and effective method for the treatment of primary glossopharyngeal neuralgia, the efficacy was equivalent to MVD + GNR, and had low incidence of hoarseness and drinking cough.

Department of Neurosurgery, The Second Hospital of Shandong University, Jinan, China.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr Shengcheng Wei, MD, Department of Neurosurgery, The Second Hospital of Shandong University, Jinan, Shandong 250033, China; E-mail:

Received 7 May, 2018

Accepted 16 June, 2018

The authors report no conflicts of interest.

© 2018 by Mutaz B. Habal, MD.