Microvascular Decompression

Our neurosurgeons at the Center for Neuromodulation are experts in microvascular decompression, a surgical procedure that is used to treat a variety of conditions of pain conditions, such as:

Microvascular decompression works by relieving the pressure of the pulsating blood vessel from the painful nerve, which is the cause of the pain condition. “As the affected cranial nerve exits the brain stem it is abnormally compressed by a particular blood vessel and causes various outcomes such as trigeminal neuralgia,” says Dr. Brian Kopell, Director of the Center for Neuromodulation at Mount Sinai Hospital.

Minimally Invasive Procedure to Treat Pain Conditions

While different cranial nerves and blood vessels are involved in different pain conditions, the microvascular surgical remedy is much the same in all of the cases. The neurosurgeon makes a small opening behind the patient’s ear (this entails a one-inch in diameter craniotomy to temporarily remove bone), locates the offending blood vessel that is pulsing and compressing the nerve, and moves the blood vessel away from the nerve. The surgeon then inserts a tiny Teflon sponge to separate the nerve from the blood vessel and cocoon the nerve from future insults.

While nerve compressions can sometimes be visualized with imaging techniques, surgical exploration is often required to make a definitive diagnosis and, if present, the above treating procedure completed. A one to two day hospital stay if usually indicated post-operatively.

Microvasculature decompression surgeries require general anesthesia and this procedure is reserved for patients that have failed to respond to more conservative pain management methods. It may also be beneficial to patients who wish to avoid facial numbness that can result from other treatment interventions.


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Center for Neuromodulation
Tel: 212-241-0050

1468 Madison Avenue
Annenberg Building
8th Floor Room 40
New York, NY 10029