Background: Seven-Tesla (7T) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) has demonstrated value for evaluating a variety of intracranial diseases. However, its utility in trigeminal neuralgia has received limited attention. The authors of the present study applied ultra-high field multimodal MRI to two representative patients with secondary trigeminal neuralgia due to epidermoid tumors to illustrate the possible clinical and surgical advantages of 7T compared with standard clinical strength imaging. Techniques included co-registration of multiple 7T sequences to optimize the detection of potential concurrent neurovascular and neoplasm-derived compression. Methods: 7T MRI studies were performed using a whole body scanner. Two- and three-dimensional renderings of potential neurovascular conflict were created by co-registering time-of-flight angiography and T2-weighted turbo spin echo images in MATLAB and GE software. Detailed comparisons of the various field strength images were provided by a collaborating neuroradiologist (B.D.). Results: 7T MRI clearly illustrated minute tumor-adjacent vasculature. In contrast, conventional, low-field imaging did not consistently provide adequate details to distinguish cerebrospinal fluid pulsatility from vessels. The tumor margins, although distinct from the trigeminal nerve fibers at 7T, blended with those of the surrounding structures at 3T. Two- and three-dimensional co-registration of time-of-flight angiography with T2-weighted MRI suggested that delicate, intervening vasculature may have contributed to these illustrative patients' symptomatology. Conclusions: 7T provided superior visualization of vital landmarks and subtle nerve and vessel features. Co-registration of various advanced 7T modalities may help to resolve complex disease etiologies. Future studies should explore the extent to which this dual etiology might persist across tumor types and utilize diffusion-based techniques to quantify what microstructural differences might exist between patients with trigeminal neuralgia from varying etiologies.
- Trigeminal neuralgia
- Ultra-high-field MRI