Case series: Deep brain stimulation for facial pain

Alon Kashanian, Jasmine A.T. DiCesare, Pratik Rohatgi, Luigi Albano, Scott E. Krahl, Ausaf Bari, Antonio de Salles, Nader Pouratian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Deep brain stimulation (DBS) has been used for chronic pain for decades, but its use is limited due to a lack of reliable data about its efficacy for specific indications. OBJECTIVE: To report on 9 patients who underwent DBS for facial pain, with a focus on differences in outcomes between distinct etiologies. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 9 patients with facial pain who were treated with DBS of the ventral posteromedial nucleus of the thalamus and periventricular gray. We report on characteristics including facial pain etiology, complications, changes in pain scores using the visual analog scale (VAS), and willingness to undergo DBS again. RESULTS: Nine patients underwent DBS for either poststroke, post-traumatic, postherpetic, or atypical facial pain. Eight patients (89%) were permanently implanted. Seven patients had sufficient follow-up (mean 40.3 mo). Of these 7 patients, average VAS scores decreased from 9.4 to 6.1 after DBS. The average decrease in VAS was 55% for post-traumatic facial pain (2 patients), 45% for poststroke (2 patients), 15% for postherpetic neuralgia (2 patients), and 0% for atypical facial pain (1 patient). Three of the 8 implanted patients (38%) had complications which required removal of hardware. Only 2 of 7 (29%) patients met classical criteria for responders (50% decrease in pain scores). However, among 4 patients who were asked about willingness to undergo DBS again, all expressed that they would repeat the procedure. CONCLUSION: There is a trend towards improvement in pain scores following DBS for facial pain, most prominently with post-traumatic pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)510-517
Number of pages8
JournalOperative Neurosurgery
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic pain
  • Deep brain stimulation
  • Facial pain
  • Neuromodulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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