Using a Cyberknife – a device that delivers a focused beam of radiation – significantly reduces the stabbing pain from a facial nerve condition, new research has found.
The small study, published online in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, found the Cyberknife to be very effective in treating trigeminal neuralgia, which strikes about five in every 100,000 people.
The condition is named after the trigeminal nerve, the source of the pain, which causes brief but sharp episodes of stabbing or burning sensations in the jaw or cheek.
The condition is usually treated with pain medication, but that does not provide lasting relief and can have serious side effects, health experts note. Some patients also undergo surgery, but not all patients can tolerate anesthesia or are willing to opt for such an invasive procedure.
The new study involved treating 17 patients with trigeminal neuralgia with Cyberknife radiosurgery between 2007 and 2009. The patients – aged 36 to 90 years - had suffered symptoms for between one and 11 years and had not responded to other treatment options.
After treatment, the patients were monitored for about a year. Researchers found 14 of the study participants experienced complete or partial relief from their symptoms after treatment with the Cyberknife.