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Trigeminal Nerve Block

The trigeminal nerve is one of the 12 cranial nerves and is responsible for providing sensation to the face as well as various facial muscular functions such as chewing. The nerve runs from the skull, branching into three divisions that supply feeling to the forehead, the cheek and the lower jaw. Trigeminal neuralgia (TN) is a disorder of this nerve that causes shooting pain to one side of the face in one or any combination of these three areas. 

Trigeminal neuralgia is the most common diagnosis when this nerve block is utilized. It can also be used in cases of inflammation, viral infection, blood vessels outside the brain pressing on the nerve, and multiple sclerosis.

How It Works

A trigeminal nerve block is performed with x-ray guidance to increase the accuracy and safety of this procedure.

  • You will be asked to lay on your back.
  • Your skin will be prepped at the entry point with an antiseptic, and a sterile drape will be placed.  
  • Your doctor will direct a guide needle toward the intended target area under x-ray guidance.
  • A local anesthetic and a steroid (cortisone) will be administered in close proximity to the nerve to block signals from reaching the brain. The cortisone serves as an anti-inflammatory.
  • The needle is then flushed and withdrawn, and a band-aid is placed over the point of needle entry.

Risks

This procedure is safe. With any procedure, however, there are risks, side effects and possibility of complications. The most common side effect is temporary pain at the injection site. Other less common risks include bleeding, infection, or injection into blood vessels. Fortunately, serious side effects and complications are uncommon. X-ray guidance to provide visualization of the targeted structures and landmarks significantly minimizes risk.