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Papers of the Week

Papers: 11 Jan 2020 - 17 Jan 2020

Human Studies

2020 02 01




Topography of the pain in classical trigeminal neuralgia: insights into somatotopic organization.



Trigeminal neuralgia is defined by its clinical characteristics of paroxysmal unilateral facial pain in a well-defined territory. Distribution of the pain may be in one or several of the cutaneous and/or mucous territories of the three divisions with V2 pain being the most frequent territory followed by V3 and V1. Factors determining the distribution of pain have not yet been systematically investigated. It is now well recognized that vascular compression factor is a predominant aetiology of classical trigeminal neuralgia. In this study we aimed to find whether there is a relation between the location of the vascular compression and the peripheral distribution of the pain. Patients with classical trigeminal neuralgia in whom microvascular decompression was performed were included. Data recorded pertained to the nature of the conflict, its degree and, most importantly, location around the root: supero-median, supero-lateral or inferior. Equally, clinical data for the distribution of pain were recorded. Most of the patients 318 (89.3%) had the compression coming from above, i.e. 220 (61.7%) had compression from a supero-medial direction and 98 (27.5%) from a supero-lateral direction; inferior compression was present in 38 patients (10.7%). Distribution of the pain was significantly different according to the location of the conflict (P = 0.0005, Fisher Exact test). Odds ratios were computed for each location of compression and painful territory involved. According to the overall distribution of pain, patients with supero-medial compression had an odds ratio of 2.7 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.66-4.41] of manifesting with V1 pain. Conversely V3 pain was less likely to occur with supero-median compression than the other types of pain (odds ratio 0.53, 95% CI 0.34-0.83). Inferior compression on the other hand was more likely to manifest with V3 pain with an odds ratio of 2.56 (95% CI 1.21-5.45). Overall V2 pain had an odds ratio close to 1 regardless of the type of compression. These findings suggest an association between the location of the neurovascular conflict with its resulting insult and the distribution of pain supporting a somatotopic view of the organization of the trigeminal root and a role of the conflict in the clinical manifestation of trigeminal neuralgia.