Glycerol Rhizotomy

Glycerol rhizotomy is one treatment option to reduce the pain of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) with an injection (shot) of a chemical called glycerol.

The procedure

This procedure is done under sedation (medication to make you relax and minimize discomfort). If you want to, you can talk to your doctor during the procedure. Your doctor might ask questions about whether your face feels numb.

Guided by imaging technology, your surgeon inserts a specialized needle through your cheek to the area where your trigeminal nerve divides into its three main branches. He or she then directs the needle tip to the division that is causing your pain.

Next, your surgeon injects glycerol into the branch. This procedure selectively damages the nerve in order to interfere with the nerve sending pain signals to your brain.

After the procedure

Glycerol rhizotomy is done on an outpatient basis (no overnight hospital stay). You should not eat or drink anything before the procedure. You need someone to take you home afterwards. Read about Vernon’s story for an inside look into his trigeminal neuralgia treatment experience at OHSU.

Glycerol rhizotomy risks

This procedure is usually safe. However, you usually have some numbness in your face. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the potential risks of your particular procedure.