Last Updated: March 11, 2018
Glycerol rhizotomy developed as a chance finding in 1981 when Häkanson and Leksell were working to pioneer the use of stereotactic gamma radiation for trigeminal neuralgia (TN). They used a glycerol carrier to inject tantalum dust into the trigeminal cistern to localize the nerve for radiosurgery targeting using standard X-rays. They discovered that injection of the medium alone prior to radiosurgery rendered pain freedom. Since then, this technique has been widely used without much change in technique.
Glycerol rhizotomy is advantageous in that the patient does not need to be awake for the procedure and there is no need for sophisticated equipment such as a radiofrequency generator. The technique is based on anatomic rather tha...