Ferran Guedea, professor of Radiology and Physical Medicine at the University of Barcelona, director of Radiation Oncology of the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO) and full academician of the Royal European Academy of Doctors-Barcelona 1914 (RAED), has coordinated with Andreu Gabarrós, head of Neurosurgery at Hospital of Bellvitge, and Cristina Picon, head of the Radiophysics Service of ICO, the first program in Catalonia and one of the first in Spain to treat trigeminal neuralgia by means of radiosurgery.
Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain that originates in the trigeminal nerve, the nerve of the head that picks up the sensitivity of the face and controls some other functions such as chewing. The pain is intense and sudden and may appear in the eyes, jaw, lips, gums, teeth, nose or forehead. It is usually triggered by touching any of these areas, or by chewing, talking, smiling, yawning, brushing teeth or even changes in temperature. It is estimated that it can affect about 1% of the population, and is more common in women and people over 50.
Many cases can be successfully treated with a drug or with alternative drugs that combine with each other. Although in cases where there is no lasting pain remission, the most effective remedy is open surgery. The University Hospital of Bellvitge and the Catalan Institute of Oncology have now launched a complementary therapy, functional radiosurgery, which consists of administering very precisely and specialized ionizing radiation on the trigeminal nerve with a stereotactic method that allows to administer very high doses on the planned target.
The calculation of the dose performed is extremely complex, since the dose administered is very high and in a lesion of a few millimetres. Those responsible for this technique point out that one of the most important challenges has been coordinating the different specialists of the two hospitals involved: neurologists, neurosurgeons, radiation oncologists, medical physicists, neuro-radiologists and neurophysiologists.