Walter Jaypak had endured years of chronic facial pain, and his efforts to find relief at leading medical institutions proved unsuccessful. But the 65-year-old Pennsylvania resident had better luck when he recently traveled from his home in Harrisburg to undergo a special minimally invasive procedure performed by Mercy Medical Center’s director of neurosurgery, Dr. Jeffrey Brown.
Mr. Jaypak was suffering from trigeminal neuralgia, a condition characterized by episodes of searing pain, lasting from a few seconds to many hours, generated from the primary nerve responsible for sensations in the face. He experienced no improvement from treatment with drugs that are often prescribed for the condition. Then he heard about the percutaneous balloon compression technique available at Mercy.
“The procedure is performed under general anesthetic, with a small catheter carrying a deflated balloon at its tip inserted in the skin just above the mouth and guided to the trigeminal nerve,” explained Dr. Brown. “Once properly positioned, the balloon is inflated and puts pressure on the nerve and defuses its ability to trigger pain.”
Mr. Jaypak reported that the pain-relieving effect was immediate, and in the hospital’s recovery area immediately following surgery the only sign he bore of the procedure was a small bandage on his right cheek. He subsequently described the procedure as “life altering.”
Dr. Brown, who has both written about trigeminal neuralgia in medical journals and presented on the subject at medical conferences, notes that studies have shown the technique to be successful in more than 90 percent of patients. v