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Pain Surgery

Neurosurgeons at Harper University Hospital and Wayne State University are internationally known for advanced management of complex pain syndromes, including the facial pain associated with trigeminal neuralgia.

Face Pain

Harper University Hospital is considered a Face Pain Center of Excellence by Janetta Clinics, Inc. – creator of the Microvascular Decompression (MVD) procedure, a leading treatment for face pain. All five of the approved treatments for face pain are offered at Harper University Hospital.

  • Gamma Knife® Radiosurgery – For patients who are not candidates for surgery, Gamma Knife® radiosurgery can be performed to reduce pain transmission on the trigeminal nerve.
  • Microvascular Decompression – Most cases of trigeminal neuralgia are caused by a blood vessel pressing on the trigeminal nerve. In a microvascular decompression (MVD) procedure, the nerve and blood vessel are separated and a soft fabric barrier is placed between them to stop the pressure. When performed by a specialized neurosurgeon, the procedure effectively stops the pain without nerve scarring and associated numbness.
  • Balloon Compression – Balloon compression of the trigeminal nerve can effectively treat the pains of trigeminal neuralgia by reducing pain transmission along the nerve.
  • Glycerol Injection – Using advanced imaging technologies, a neurosurgeon inserts a needle and guides it to the trigeminal nerve. A small amount of sterile glycerol is injected into the area surrounding the nerve. In a few hours, the glycerol damages the nerve and blocks pain signals.
  • Radiofrequency Thermal Rhizotomy – The neurosurgeon inserts a needle and guides it to the trigeminal nerve. Once in place, an electrode is inserted through the needle and an electrical current is passed through the electrode — heating the tip of the electrode to a temperature which damages the nerve fibers and blocks pain.

Other Pain Syndromes

Harper neurosurgeons treat other pain syndromes with a wide variety of procedures, including:

  • Neurostimulation – This advanced treatment option involves implantation of electrodes on the spine or motor cortex region of the brain. Stimulating these areas with electrical impulses can inhibit pain. The technique is used in the treatment of chronic back pain, post angina pain, phantom limb pain, chronic pain from vascular disease, face pain and other pain syndromes.
  • Kyphoplasty/Vertebroplasty – Khyphoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure for the treatment of spine osteoporotic fracture pain. It can be performed in an outpatient setting in less than an hour. Using x-ray guidance, the surgeon inserts a small needle into the fractured bone and inflates a balloon to restore the spinal vertebral height and reduce the fracture. The surgeon then injects a fast-drying surgical cement to secure the bone fragments. Patients often experience almost immediate pain relief.

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