Utility of Brainstem Trigeminal Evoked Potentials in Patients With Primary Trigeminal Neuralgia Treated by Microvascular Decompression

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To investigate the characteristics of brainstem trigeminal evoked potentials (BTEP) waveform in patients with and without trigeminal neuralgia (TN), and to discuss the utility of BTEP in patients with primary TN treated by microvascular decompression (MVD).


A retrospective review of 43 patients who underwent BTEP between January 2016 and June 2016, including 33 patients with TN who underwent MVD and 10 patients without TN. Brainstem trigeminal evoked potentials characteristics of TN and non-TN were summarized, in particular to compare the BTEP changes between pre- and post-MVD, and to discover the relationship between BTEP changes and surgical outcome.


Brainstem trigeminal evoked potentials can be recorded in patients without trigeminal neuralgia. Abnormal BTEP could be recorded when different branches were stimulated. After decompression, the original W2, W3 disappeared and then replaced by a large wave in most patients, or original wave poorly differentiated improved in some patients, showed as shorter latency and (or) amplitude increased. Brainstem trigeminal evoked potentials waveform of healthy side in patients with trigeminal neuralgia was similar to the waveform of patients without TN. In 3 patients, after decompression the W2, W3 peaks increased, and the latency, duration, IPLD did not change significantly. Until discharge, 87.9% (29/33) of the patients presented complete absence of pain without medication (BNI I) and 93.9% (31/33) had good pain control without medication (BNI I-II).


Brainstem trigeminal evoked potentials can reflect the conduction function of the trigeminal nerve to evaluate the functional level of the trigeminal nerve conduction pathway. The improvement and restoration of BTEP waveforms are closely related to the postoperative curative effect.

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