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Microvascular Decompression Surgery

Microvascular decompression (MVD) is a surgical procedure used to treat certain neurovascular conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm, and glossopharyngeal neuralgia that are caused by the compression of cranial nerves by blood vessels. It is a minimally invasive surgery in which a neurosurgeon places a cushion between the nerve and the blood vessel causing the problem in order to relieve pressure and alleviate symptoms.

What is MVD (Microvascular Decompression)?

Microvascular decompression is also referred to as MVD. It’s a neurosurgical procedure that relieves abnormal compression of a cranial nerve. This surgery is mainly used to address the various neurological conditions that are caused by the compression of blood vessels on one of the nerves near the brain stem.

The goal of MVD is to alleviate these symptoms by carefully repositioning or removing the vessels causing the compression, thereby reducing, or eliminating, the nerve’s irritation or dysfunction.

Conditions Treated with Microvascular Decompression

MVD is an effective and common treatment for several conditions that are caused by the compression of blood vessels or nerves in the brain:

  • Trigeminal Neuralgia: This is a chronic pain condition that affects the trigeminal nerve, causing sudden, severe facial pain that stems from the trigeminal nerve. MVD can significantly reduce or eliminate this pain by removing the source of nerve compression.
  • Hemifacial Spasm: This is a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary twitching or contraction of the facial muscles on one side. These symptoms can also be alleviated through MVD by relieving the pressure on the facial nerve.
  • Glossopharyngeal Neuralgia: This is a rare condition that causes sharp, stabbing pain in the back of the throat, tongue, and ear due to irritation of the glossopharyngeal nerve. In this case, MVD surgery addresses the vascular compression of the glossopharyngeal nerve.
  • Hemiataxia: Hemiataxia is a type of ataxia (loss of coordination) that affects one side of the body due to compression of blood vessels on specific parts of the brain responsible for motor control. MVD can help improve coordination and balance in patients with hemiataxia.
  • Vestibular Schwannoma: Although primarily a tumor removal procedure, MVD may be involved in cases where a vestibular schwannoma is causing nerve compression.

Microvascular Decompression Overview

During an MVD procedure, your neurosurgeon makes a small incision behind the ear closest to the source of the compression and creates a small hole in the skull to access the affected cranial nerve and problematic blood vessels. Using microsurgical techniques, your surgeon then carefully moves any blood vessels that are compressing the nerve away from it, using tiny Teflon pads or other materials to cushion the nerve and prevent future compression. This procedure is successful due to PBSSM’s neurosurgeons’ ability to precisely maneuver within the limited space to avoid damaging any nerves or surrounding brain tissue.

Microvascular decompression for trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm is considered to be one of the most effective treatments for those conditions, with success rates ranging from 70-90%. The procedure is minimally invasive and typically has a quick recovery time, with most patients able to return home within a few days of surgery.

While MVD is generally safe, like any surgery, there are some risks involved such as infection, bleeding, or damage to surrounding structures. If you are a potential patient for MVD surgery, it’s important to discuss these risks with your surgeon before making a decision.

Microvascular decompression is a highly effective treatment option for vascular nerve compression that offers long-lasting relief for many patients. By relieving pressure on the affected cranial nerves, MVD can significantly improve the quality of life for those suffering from these debilitating conditions.

Recovery from Microvascular Decompression

Recovery from microvascular decompression surgery can vary depending on the individual patient and the specific condition being treated, but there are some general guidelines that can help patients understand what to expect during their recovery period.

  • Most patients can expect to spend a few days in the hospital for monitoring following surgery.
  • Immediately following surgery, you may experience some pain and swelling at the incision site and some degree of headache. This discomfort can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain relief or medication prescribed by your physician. It’s important to follow your doctor’s instructions for taking pain medication and to avoid strenuous activities that could exacerbate any post-operative pain.
  • Patients may also experience temporary facial numbness or weakness after MVD surgery, which typically improves over time as the nerve heals.
  • Some patients may also have difficulty swallowing or speaking immediately after surgery, but these symptoms usually resolve within a few days or weeks.
  • It’s essential to follow your surgeon’s post-operative care instructions closely to promote healing and minimize complications. This may include keeping the incision site clean and dry, avoiding activities that could put a strain on the surgical site, and attending follow-up appointments.
  • Physical therapy or rehabilitation exercises may also be recommended to help restore strength and mobility in the affected area after surgery. These exercises can aid in speeding up recovery time and reducing stiffness or muscle weakness.

Overall, recovery from microvascular decompression surgery is typically successful with proper care and attention to the post-operative guidelines that will be provided by your healthcare team. Most patients experience significant relief from their symptoms or complete resolution of their condition. Full recovery, including the return to normal activities and work, may take from several weeks to a few months.

If you have any concerns about your recovery process or experience any unusual symptoms following MVD surgery, it is important to contact your surgeon immediately for further evaluation and guidance.

Microvascular decompression is an important procedure in the neurosurgical field, offering hope and relief to patients suffering from certain debilitating neurovascular conditions. With its high success rates and the potential for lasting benefits, MVD represents a pivotal treatment option that can significantly enhance the quality of life for affected individuals.

If you think MVD could be the solution to your symptoms, it’s essential to discuss the potential risks and benefits with a qualified neurosurgeon to make an informed decision about your health. Contact one of the board-certified neurosurgical experts at Princeton Brain & Spine today for a full evaluation and discussion about your treatment options. We have clinics at convenient locations throughout New Jersey and Pennsylvania with professional healthcare teams ready to help resolve your concerns.

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