Current Issue - May-June 2015 - Vol 18 Issue 3


  1. 2015;18;E403-E409Sphenopalatine Ganglion Electrical Nerve Stimulation Implant for Intractable Facial Pain
    Case Report
    Foad Elahi, MD, and Chandan G Reddy, MD.

It has been suggested that the autonomic reflex plays an important role in the pathophysiology of headaches and facial neuralgia. The key structure in the expression of cranial autonomic symptoms is the sphenopalatine ganglion (SPG), also known as the pterygopalatine ganglion. The role of the SPG in the pathophysiology of headaches and facial pain has become clearer in the past decade. In this case report, we describe a 30-year-old woman with insidious onset of right facial pain. She was suffering from daily pain for more than 9 years prior to her visit at the pain clinic. Her pain was constant with episodic aggravation without a predisposing trigger factor. The patient was evaluated by multiple specialties and tried multimodal therapy, which included antiepileptic medications, with minimal pain relief. A SPG block using short-acting local anesthetic provided significant temporary pain relief. The second and third attempt of SPG block using different local anesthetic medications demonstrated the same responses. After a thorough psychological assessment and ruling out the presence of a correctable cause for the pain, we decided to proceed with SPG electrical neuromodulation. The patient reported significant pain relief during the electrical nerve stimulation trial. The patient underwent a permanent implant of the neurostimulation electrode in the SPG region. The patient was successfully taken off opioid medication and her pain was dramatically responsive during a 6-month follow-up visit. In this article we describe the SPG nerve stimulation and the technical aspect of pterygopalatine fossa electrode placement. The pterygoplatine fossa is an easily accessible location. This case report will be encouraging for physicians treating intractable facial pain by demonstrating a novel therapeutic option. This report shows a minimally invasive approach to the SPG.