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Rigshospitalet - a part of Copenhagen University Hospital
E-pub ahead of print

Neurovascular contact plays no role in trigeminal neuralgia secondary to multiple sclerosis

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INTRODUCTION: A demyelinating plaque and neurovascular contact with morphological changes have both been suggested to contribute to the etiology of trigeminal neuralgia secondary to multiple sclerosis (TN-MS). The aim of this study was to confirm or refute whether neurovascular contact with morphological changes is involved in the etiology of TN-MS.

METHODS: We prospectively enrolled consecutive TN-MS patients from the Danish Headache Center. Clinical characteristics were collected systematically. MRI scans were done using a 3.0 Tesla imager and were evaluated by the same experienced blinded neuroradiologist.

RESULTS: Sixty-three patients were included. Fifty-four patients were included in the MRI analysis. There was a low prevalence of neurovascular contact with morphological changes on both the symptomatic side (6 (14%)) and the asymptomatic side (4 (9%)), p = 0.157. Demyelinating brainstem plaques along the trigeminal afferents were more prevalent on the symptomatic side compared to the asymptomatic side (31 (58%) vs. 12 (22%), p < 0.001). A demyelinating plaque was highly associated with the symptomatic side (odds ratio = 10.6, p = 0.002).

CONCLUSION: The primary cause of TN-MS is demyelination along the intrapontine trigeminal afferents. As opposed to classical trigeminal neuralgia, neurovascular contact does not play a role in the etiology of TN-MS. Microvascular decompression should generally not be offered to patients with TN-MS.The study was registered at (number NCT04371575).

Original languageEnglish
JournalCephalalgia : an international journal of headache
Pages (from-to)333102420974356
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2021

    Research areas

  • demyelinating plaque, microvascular decompression, multiple sclerosis, neurovascular contact, Trigeminal neuralgia

ID: 61820974