Microvascular Decompression: procedure to reposition blood vessels that are irritating cranial nerves.
What is Microvascular Decompression?
Microvascular decompression is a surgical procedure performed to release abnormal pressure on the cranial nerves. It repositions any blood vessels irritating cranial nerves. Occasionally, veins or arteries can compress the nerve root as it exits the brain stem. When compressed, the nerve may start to send messages to the brain. These messages might cause pain, spasms and/or muscle twitching.
Who Needs Microvascular Decompression?
This surgical procedure can be used to treat the following conditions:
- Trigeminal neuralgia. A disorder in which the patient experiences intense, constant pain in the face due to irritation of the trigeminal nerve.
- Facial pain occurring after surgical procedures
- Hemifacial spasm
- Spasmodic torticollis
- Intractable positional vertigo
How is Microvascular Decompression Performed?
Following are the steps involved in this surgical procedure:
- The patient is given general anesthesia. Their head is fixed in a device that keeps the head in position during surgery.
- A small incision is made in the skin behind the ear. The skin is moved aside and an opening is made in the skull. The surgeon removes the bone to expose dura (the protective covering of the brain). An incision is made in the dura, which allows access to the brain.
- As needed, tissues are gently moved (retracted) until the surgeon has access to cranial nerves. Any blood vessels compressing the cranial nerves are then identified.
- Next, the offending blood vessels are separated from the nerve and small Teflon pad is placed a between them to prevent any further contact.
- Finally, the soft tissues that were retracted are returned to thier normal position. The dura is replaced and sealed. Then the bone and skin are replaced.
- The whole procedure takes about two to three hours.
What Happens After Microvascular Decompression Surgery?
After the procedure, the patient is transferred to ICU for close monitoring. The patient may experience nausea at this time, and this can be controlled with medication. Typically, within one or two days, the patient will be discharged from the hospital.
In most cases, the patient gets immediate relief. However, in few cases they may experience mild symptoms for a few weeks before they stop permanently.
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