Suicide disease often goes on misdiagnosed - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock


An uncommon disease, called the suicide disease often goes on misdiagnosed

By Karin McCay| email

Edited by Kristin Beerman | email 

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) – Its nickname is the suicide disease because patients live with excruciating pain in the face every day. The condition is actually called trigeminal neuralgia, patients with this condition have an irritated trigeminal nerve, which feeds sensations throughout the face. 

"The most common presenting symptoms are incredible facial pain that generally starts from behind the ear and then goes down into the gum line and stops right at the midline," said Dr. Gregory Rubino, a Neurovascular Surgeon.  "The pain is so horrible for patients that many go on to commit suicide before they're properly treated."

But the good news is some patients are finding a permanent solution through what's called microvascular decompression.  It's a surgery in which doctors actually move the affected artery from the trigeminal nerve.

"After we access the trigeminal nerve, we look for the vessel pushing on the nerve and usually this is found underneath the nerve and so we would dissect the artery off of the nerve and make sure it's safely off the brain stem and then we put a small piece of teflon between the artery and the nerve," said Dr. Rubino.

The Teflon acts as a barrier between the artery and nerve-eliminating the pain. Sarah had the procedure a month ago and says she is now completely pain free.

"It's almost like a bad memory ... bad dream. It's over," said Sarah Woolley, a Trigeminal Neuralgia patient.

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