What Is Microvascular Decompression?
Microvascular decompression (MVD) is an intracranial surgery. It is often used to treat facial conditions such as trigeminal neuralgia (TN) and hemifacial spasm (HFS). The most common application is in cases where there is pressure being applied to a nerve from an adjacent vein or artery, sometimes called an impingement of a conflict. Microvascular decompression surgery causes no additional nerve damage and offers a high probability that pain or spasm will not return.
The Microvascular Decompression Procedure
To determine if you are a good candidate for microvascular decompression surgery, you will be referred for a special MRI that will reveal whether or not your condition is caused by nerve compression. If your condition does not stem from an artery or vein pressing on a nerve, MVD is often not the first treatment choice. However, if doctors determine that nerve compression is the likely cause of your condition, surgery often becomes the first recommendation.
Microvascular decompression surgery is performed in a hospital, not a surgical center, where you will be placed under general anesthesia (meaning you will be completely asleep) for the surgery. Next, your neurosurgeon will create an incision in the skin about one inch behind your ear in order to access the back of the mastoid bone. From there, a small opening about the size of a quarter will be made in the skull, allowing access to the cranial nerves that are causing problems.
Once this “window” has been created, your surgeon will use an operative microscope to locate the source of compression on the nerve. Upon locating the impingement, your neurosurgeon will use a tiny Teflon sponge between the nerve and blood vessel to cushion the nerve against impact. This buffer allows the nerve to function normally, as it is not constantly being pressed into by a pulsing vein or artery.
Once the procedure is complete, your surgical team will monitor and test facial activity to ensure a successful surgery. The bone defect will be replaced with a synthetic material for a cosmetic closure and the short incision sutured shut. You will be then moved to recovery, where you will come out of anesthesia before moving to a room.
Are You a Good Candidate for Microvascular Decompression?
MVD is the gold standard for many facial pain conditions; however, it isn’t an option for everyone. Those who have conditions that stem from nerve compression caused by an artery or vein are the best candidates for a successful MVD surgery. Trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm are the two conditions most commonly treated with microvascular decompression.
Of course, other factors, such as your overall health and ability to withstand general anesthesia, play a major role in determining whether you should undergo microvascular decompression. Your neurosurgeon will help you decide if MVD is right for you.
Recovery Time for Microvascular Decompression Surgery
The recovery time for microvascular decompression is quite a bit shorter than that of many other intracranial surgeries. This is due to the fact that no structures, such as nerves or soft tissues within the skull, are compromised. Nonetheless, it is wise to plan for an adequate recovery to best reap the rewards of your MVD surgery.
You should expect a hospital stay of around two days. It may be longer or shorter depending on your particular case and needs, but the average stay length is two days. During this time, you will likely notice that the symptoms of your facial condition disappear or greatly diminish. There will be some localized pain from the incision and surgical site, but prescribed pain medication will easily control it.
Once you’ve been released from the hospital and return home, you can expect to experience mild headaches and some fatigue. It’s a good idea to take it easy and rest as much as you feel you need to. You may be restricted from lifting heavy objects or participating in any strenuous activities for a recommended length of time. Gentle walks and prescribed exercises (if any) will help keep a fresh supply of blood flowing to the surgical site without putting too much strain on the area. This will give your incision and bone time to heal.
After you’ve been to one or two follow-up visits with your neurosurgeon, you will likely be free to return to work (depending on how much physical labor is required) and resume your regular activities. Most people who have MVD surgery are back to their normal lives within three months.
Why Neurosurgeons of New Jersey Stands Apart
Making the decision to have MVD surgery is a major step towards getting your life back. The last thing you need to feel is uncertainty about what you’re preparing to do. At Neurosurgeons of New Jersey, each and every staff member – from the administrative and customer service teams to the surgeons – are carefully vetted to ensure that you receive top-notch care from start to finish.
Compassion and understanding are at the core of every interaction with the surgeons and staff at Neurosurgeons of New Jersey. You can expect to have all of your questions answered and to have the support you need every step of the way.
Another advantage to working with Neurosurgeons of New Jersey is choosing from five convenient locations that serve the tri-state area. This allows you to find the center closest to your home so you don’t have to venture too far away. Each center has highly qualified surgeons ready to help you reclaim the life you want to be living.