Microvascular Decompression Specialist

David Newell, MD

Cerebrovascular, Spinal, and Brain Tumor Neurosurgery located in Bellevue, WA

If you have trigeminal neuralgia, you know the agonizing pain that can occur from something as soft as a gentle breeze blowing across your face. Trigeminal neuralgia is one of several facial nerve conditions that can be treated with microvascular decompression. David Newell, MD, an expert in microvascular decompression, has successfully helped men and women throughout the greater Seattle area of Washington overcome facial pain by decompressing a facial nerve. To learn whether this procedure could help your facial pain or muscle spasms, call or book an appointment online.

Microvascular Decompression

What is microvascular decompression?

Microvascular decompression is a surgical procedure that treats nerves in your face that are pinched by a blood vessel. Dr. Newell performs microvascular decompression to relieve symptoms caused by three conditions: trigeminal neuralgia, glossopharyngeal neuralgia, and hemifacial spasm.

What is trigeminal neuralgia?

Trigeminal neuralgia is a condition that affects your trigeminal nerve, which transmits sensations from your face, mouth, teeth, and nose to your brain. The trigeminal nerve also controls the muscles you use to chew.

Trigeminal neuralgia develops when an artery or vein compresses the nerve near the base of your brain. As a result, the nerve malfunctions and becomes hypersensitive, causing severe pain from the slightest touch.

Your pain may be triggered by everyday stimuli such as:

  • Lightly touching your skin
  • A slight breeze
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Washing your face
  • Smiling
  • Hot or cold beverages

At first, your symptoms are typically mild and last only a short time. They gradually worsen over time, becoming frequent, long-lasting bouts of extreme pain.

What is glossopharyngeal neuralgia?

Glossopharyngeal neuralgia is similar to trigeminal neuralgia, except that a blood vessel presses against the glossopharyngeal nerve. This condition causes severe pain in the back of your throat, tongue, or ear that’s often triggered by swallowing, talking, coughing, chewing, or laughing.

What is hemifacial spasm?

Hemifacial spasm occurs when muscles on one side of your face twitch uncontrollably. The spasms most often develop when the facial nerve, or the seventh cranial nerve, is compressed by a blood vessel. In some cases, the condition is caused by an injury or tumor.

You may experience:

  • Eyelid twitching
  • Spasms that make your eye close
  • Spasms that pull your mouth to one side
  • Muscle spasms in your lower face
  • Continuous spasms of all muscles on one side of your face.

In 92% of cases, the muscle spasms start near your eye and gradually progress down your face.

How is microvascular decompression performed?

The nerves involved in trigeminal neuralgia, glossopharyngeal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm originate at the base of your brainstem. To decompress the nerves, Dr. Newell must make a small hole in the bone at the back of your skull to expose the affected nerve.

After isolating the nerve, Dr. Newell inserts a sponge-like material between the nerve and the blood vessel. The tiny sponge protects and cushions the nerve, which helps relieve pain and stop muscle spasms.

If you’re experiencing severe facial pain or muscle spasms, call David Newell, MD or book an appointment online.