What is Microvascular Decompression?
Microvascular decompression is a surgical procedure to relieve pressure on cranial nerves, treating conditions such as facial spasm or trigeminal neuralgia, a type of facial pain. Nearby blood vessels can compress cranial nerves and cause facial pain or spasm. Surgery involves entering the skull to reach the nerve and inserting a piece of Teflon sponge to isolate the nerve and protect it from offending blood vessels. When conservative therapies such as medication fail, microvascular decompression is an option.
To perform microvascular decompression, the surgeon will typically make an incision behind the ear. The nerves are accessed by surgically entering the skull either by craniotomy or craniectomy. Both procedures make openings into the skull, but craniotomy replaces the removed bone while craniectomy does not. The blood vessel compressing the nerve is identified, and a piece of sponge is used to separate the two, allowing the nerve to heal and for pressure to be relieved. The incision in your scalp will be closed with sutures or staples.
Recovery can take 1-3 days, and you will be given medication if you experience discomfort or headaches. Within two weeks of your procedure, the sutures or staples will need to be removed. Returning to normal activity will be gradual and may require several weeks. Although there are risks associated with microvascular decompression, including infection, bleeding, hearing loss, and headaches, the procedure can lead to immediate pain relief.