DOI: 10.1177/20494637231199332 ISSN:

Management of trigeminal neuralgia: A multi-centre case study in general practice

Zofia J Zakrzewska, Parinaz Hosseini-Ashrafi, Ishrat Hussain, Zachary James Moulder, Jithu Subhash, Melissa Tan, Martin Ewart Johnson, Joanna M Zakrzewska
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Background and aims

Patients often first present with symptoms of trigeminal neuralgia (TN) to primary care. However, there has been little research to determine whether the diagnosis and management of this condition is carried out according to current guidelines. Furthermore, there is little up-to-date information regarding the prevalence of TN in the UK. The aim is to estimate the prevalence of TN and to audit the diagnosis and management process of TN in primary care.


Between 2019 and 2020 a search was made at five UK GP practices with a total patient population of 55,842 using EMIS and SystmOne patient record systems to review patient consultations to identify patients coded with TN or facial pain (FP). These records were reviewed to ascertain the basis for diagnosis, management in primary care and referral to secondary care.


157 patients were identified; 54 coded with FP and 103 with TN. These results indicate a prevalence of 22.3 in 10,000. There was no difference in documented symptoms between the two groups. Seven patients had all ICDH3 criteria recorded, with two meeting the requirements for TN diagnosis. 58.8% of patients with TN were started on carbamazepine, the current gold standard treatment, compared with 16.7% in the FP group. 38.2% of TN patients were referred to a range of different specialities.


The prevalence of TN may be higher than previously thought. Key diagnostic criteria are often omitted, leading to potential misdiagnosis or delays in diagnosis. Relatively few referrals are made, though all patients should be considered for imaging.

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