Volumetric measurement of the pontomesencephalic cistern in patients with trigeminal neuralgia and healthy controls

Dirk Rasche*, Bodo Kress, Christoph Stippich, Ernst Nennig, Klaus Sartor, Volker M. Tronnier

*Corresponding author for this work
20 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Most so-called idiopathic trigeminal neuralgias (TN) are caused by neurovascular compression. Does the size of the cerebellopontine cistern play a role in favoring a neurovascular conflict? The aim of this prospective study was to measure the volume of the parapontine cistern in patients with idiopathic TN and to perform a comparison with healthy controls. METHODS: In 25 patients with unilateral idiopathic TN and 17 healthy participants, high-resolution 1.5-T magnetic resonance imaging scans of the parapontine region and the trigeminal nerve were performed. A coronal T2-weighted, true fast imaging steady-state precession sequence with a slice thickness of 0.9 mm was used to define the surrounding cerebrospinal fluid space from the trigeminal root entry zone to Meckel's cave. The volume of the pontomesencephalic cistern was calculated using a standardized method. RESULTS: The mean difference of the volume of the affected and opposite side was 13% in patients with TN. In all patients, a significantly smaller volume of the cistern was found on the affected side (P < 0.01). Healthy controls showed a mean volumetric side difference of 9%, which was not significant (P > 0.05). CONCLUSION: High-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scans are able to demonstrate significant volumetric differences of the pontomesencephalic cistern in patients with unilateral TN. A smaller cistern may be correlated with the occurrence of a neurovascular compression, and these findings support the neurovascular compression theory in idiopathic TN.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)614-619
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 09.2006


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