What is the Trigeminal Nerve?
The trigeminal nerve is the largest cranial nerve that emerges from the brain and splits into three branches in the face; the ophthalmic, maxillary and mandibular branches and allows you to feel the sensations on the face and control chewing . these 3 branches meet at the trigeminal ganglion in your head.
We have 2 trigeminal nerves , one on each side of the face.
What is a Trigeminal Nerve Block?
A trigeminal nerve block is a drug injection used to treat facial pain. Along with it, radiofrequency ablation is done, which involves heating a tiny portion of nerve tissue with radio waves. The heat kills the nerve in that place, preventing it from relaying pain signals to the brain.
What Conditions are Treated with Trigeminal Nerve Block?
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Herpes zoster infection on the face
- Atypical facial pain
How is a Trigeminal Nerve Block and Radiofrequency Ablation Done?
With the help of fluoroscopy, a type of real-time continuous X-ray, a tiny needle is inserted into the side of the face after numbing it. After this, a test is performed to ensure that the needle has reached the desired location.
A microelectrode is inserted into the hollow needle as part of the test, resulting in a tingling sensation and indicating that the appropriate treatment location has been identified.
A radiofrequency current is then passed through the needle to heat the nerve segment that has been identified. The current will kill the nerve in that region, preventing it from relaying pain signals to the brain.
How long Does the Procedure Take?
The treatment usually lasts less than 30 minutes, and you can return home the same day.
What is done after the Nerve Block and Ablation?
Patients are advised to take their medications regularly and avoid biting on the affected side for nearly three months.
What is the Efficacy of a Trigeminal Nerve Block?
With the nerve block, some people experience relief from pain right after the injection, but as the anaesthetic wears off, the discomfort may return a few hours later.
On the other hand, the radiofrequency ablation provides relatively long lasting pain relief. Pain reoccurs only after the nerve regenerates.
Is Trigeminal Nerve Block and Ablation Right for you?
You can consider this procedure as a treatment if there is no response to medications and you want to avoid the hassles of surgery.
What are the Side Effects of the Procedure?
Numbness in the face and trouble chewing or swallowing are possible side effects, but they only last a few hours. Facial weakness is another transitory adverse effect; however, it is quite unusual. You may experience bruising, swelling, or pain at the injection site for a few days after the surgery.
What are the Advantages of Trigeminal Nerve Block and Radiofrequency Ablation?
- Long lasting pain relief
- Relatively safer procedure
- No hassle of surgery
- No use of general anaesthesia
- Same-day discharge
- Immediate pain relief
- Minimum post-operative complications