Neurovascular contact plays no role in trigeminal neuralgia secondary to multiple sclerosis
Cephalalgia, Ahead of Print.
IntroductionA 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.MethodsWe 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.ResultsSixty-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).ConclusionThe 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 ClinicalTrials.gov (number NCT04371575)