Trigeminal neuralgia – a coherent cross-specialty management program

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Description Trigeminal neuralgia – a coherent cross-specialty management program
Abstract Background:
Optimal management of patients with classical trigeminal neuralgia (TN) requires specific treatment programs and close collaboration between medical, radiological and surgical specialties. Organization of such treatment programs has never been described before. With this paper we aim to describe the implementation and feasibility of an accelerated cross-speciality management program, to describe the collaboration between the involved specialties and to report the patient flow during the first 2 years after implementation. Finally, we aim to stimulate discussions about optimal management of TN.

Based on collaboration between neurologists, neuroradiologists and neurosurgeons a standardized program for TN was implemented in May 2012 at the Danish Headache Center (DHC). First out-patient visit and subsequent 3.0 Tesla MRI scan was booked in an accelerated manner. The MRI scan was performed according to a special TN protocol developed for this program. Patients initially referred to neurosurgery were re-directed to DHC for pre-surgical evaluation of diagnosis and optimization of medical treatment. Follow-up was 2 years with fixed visits where medical treatment and indication for neurosurgery was continuously evaluated. Scientific data was collected in a structured and prospective manner.

From May 2012 to April 2014, 130 patients entered the accelerated program. Waiting time for the first out-patient visit was 42 days. Ninety-four percent of the patients had a MRI performed according to the special protocol after a mean of 37 days. Within 2 years follow-up 35 % of the patients were referred to neurosurgery after a median time of 65 days. Five scientific papers describing demographics, clinical characteristics and neuroanatomical abnormalities were published.

The described cross-speciality management program proved to be feasible and to have acceptable waiting times for referral and highly specialized work-up of TN patients in a public tertiary referral centre for headache and facial pain. Early high quality MRI ensured correct diagnosis and that the neurosurgeons had a standardized basis before decision-making on impending surgery. The program ensured that referral of the subgroup of patients in need for surgery was standardized, ensured continuous evaluation of the need for adjustments in pharmacological management and formed the basis for scientific research.


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly credited.

Source: Heinskou T, Maarbjerg S, Rochat P, Wolfram F, Jensen RH, Bendtsen L. Trigeminal neuralgia – a coherent cross-specialty management program. The Journal of Headache and Pain. 2015;16:66. doi:10.1186/s10194-015-0550-4.
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