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If medication fails to alleviate Trigeminal Neuralgia pain, or causes undesirable side effects, a procedure called Microvascular Decompression may be needed. Microvascular Decompression is performed to relieve pressure off the ganglion and nerve inside the skull, preserving sensation in the face.

During the procedure, the hair on the back of the head is clipped and the skin and skull are opened. Dr. Levesque uses a microscope to view the nerve as it leaves the brain stem. Typically, a blood vessel is compressing the nerve. Dr. Levesque moves the blood vessel slightly and inserts a piece of material to prevent recurring compression. The skin is closed and the patient is brought out of anesthesia.

Illustration of brain circulatory system

In rare instances, no blood vessel is found compressing the nerve. In those cases, with the patient’s prior approval, Dr. Levesque may have to cut a part of the nerve to relieve pain.

Permanent numbness will result if the nerve is cut. 

Trigeminal Neuralgia

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition identified by severe pain in a person’s face that lingers for several seconds. In some cases, the pain can spread throughout the whole face.