High-resolution three-dimensional magnetic resonance angiography and three-dimensional spoiled gradient-recalled imaging in the evaluation of neurovascular compression in patients with trigeminal neuralgia: A double-blind pilot study

Valerie Anderson, Phillip C. Berryhill, Michael A. Sandquist, David P. Ciaverella, Gary Nesbit, Kim Burchiel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

102 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To assess the value of high-resolution three-dimensional (3D) time-of-flight (TOF) magnetic resonance (MR) angiography and gadolinium (Gad)-enhanced 3D spoiled gradient-recalled imaging in the visualization of neurovascular compression in patients with trigeminal neuralgia. METHODS: Forty-eight patients with unilateral trigeminal neuralgia underwent high-resolution 3D TOF MR angiography. After administration of a contrast agent, a 3D spoiled gradient-recalled sequence (3D Gad) was run. Images were reviewed by a radiologist blinded to clinical details. All patients underwent microvascular decompression surgery. Microdissection of the trigeminal nerve and compressing vessels was videotaped during surgery and reviewed by surgeons uninvolved in patient care. Results from neuroradiological studies were then compared with findings on operative videotapes. RESULTS: MR angiography in combination with 3D Gad imaging identified surgically verified neurovascular contact in 42 of 46 (91%) symptomatic nerves. The offending vessel (artery, vein) was correctly identified in 31 of 41 cases (sensitivity, 76%; specificity, 75%). Neurovascular compression was observed in 71% of asymptomatic nerves with a trend toward greater compression severity on the symptomatic nerve (P <0.09). Agreement between the direction of neurovascular contact defined by 3D TOF MR angiography and 3D Gad and findings at surgery was good (κ = 0.78; 95% confidence interval, 0.61-0.94). CONCLUSION: Double-blind assessment of surgical and neuroradiological findings confirms that neurovascular compression can be visualized with good sensitivity in patients with trigeminal neuralgia by 3D TOF MR angiography in combination with Gad-enhanced 3D spoiled gradient-recalled sequences. Anatomic relationships defined by this method can be useful in predicting surgical findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)666-671
Number of pages6
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2006



  • Magnetic resonance angiography
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Microvascular decompression
  • Neurovascular compression
  • Trigeminal neuralgia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery

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