A gasserian ganglion block is used to treat trigeminal neuralgia, a form of neuropathic face pain and as well as patients who suffer from pain caused by cancer of face region. The gasserian ganglion is a collection of nerve cell bodies that help provide sensation to the head and face and provide movement to the muscle of mastication (chewing muscles).
The gasserian ganglion lies inside the skull on each side of the head. From the ganglion, the trigeminal nerve separates into three branches.
The ophthalmic branch supplies the forehead. The maxillary branch supplies the midface or maxilla. The mandibular branch supplies the mandible or lower face. A gasserian ganglion block is performed if the desire is to make the face numb. This may help determine if the facial pain they are feeling can be reduced.
The patient is placed in the supine position with the cervical spine extended over a rolled towel.
Neurolytic agents provide a longer duration of pain relief, typically lasting for a few months. They achieve this by causing destruction of nerve fibers. The neurons regenerate in 3-6 months.
If a balloon gangliolysis is performed, the desire is to permanently reduce the facial pain by having a balloon compress the ganglion for 1 minute. A needle with a balloon attached to it is introduced to the region of the ganglion, the balloon is inflated for one minute and then collapsed and withdrawn. This will produce some mild numbness in the region of the face.