Eastman Dental Institute


Imaging in trigeminal neuralgia

Professor Joanna Zakrzewska in collaboration with UCLH National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery

Trigeminal neuralgia is a chronic pain disorder that affects the trigeminal nerve. The typical form results in episodes of severe, sudden, shock-like pain in one side of the face that lasts for seconds to a few minutes. It is estimated that around 10 people in 100,000 in the UK develop the disorder each year with more women tending to be affected than men. 


Using new ways of imaging we are hoping to learn more about the causes of trigeminal neuralgia. Diffusion weighted imaging is a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique that can be applied to assess the microstructural integrity of white matter tracts and cranial nerves. Our team will conduct a pilot study in ten patients to determine how these images change after surgery. We will evaluate the possibility of using this type of imaging as a biomarker. 

We are currently working on the exact protocol and will trial the method on a volunteer in the autumn [2018], before applying for ethical approval.

Potential impact

MRI could potentially tell us more about the cause of trigeminal neuralgia and where the problem originates more precisely. The study will also provide evidence about the impact of a non-destructive procedure on the functioning of the nerve.