In 2003, I.M. began to experience periodic episodes of pain in what she thought was her tooth. At first the attacks lasted a minute or two but before long, they became unimaginably bad. She had spells that would last every five to ten minutes, sometimes for periods of several days. After a number of visits to her dentist, desperate to pinpoint the source of her discomfort, the problem just got worse. Eventually, it moved to the side of her nose, then settled just under her bottom teeth, and then became so severe it often prevented her from talking and eating.
It took years of tests and visits to dentists and other specialists until she was diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, a disorder of the nerve which carries sensation from the face to the brain. Effective treatment for her condition however, was even more elusive. I.M.’s condition worsened and she was forced to quit her job. Her life was turned upside down.
Then Dr. Rod Acosta, her primary care physician in Stamford, told her about neurosurgeon Dr. Scott Simon who uses the Cyberknife at Stamford Hospital to treat trigeminal neuralgia. The Cyberknife technology is specifically designed for the delivery of stereotactic radiosurgery and operates through collaborative efforts of the neurosurgeon, radiation oncologist, and radiation physicist. Treatment consists of aiming precisely focused beams of radiation on the trigeminal nerve. The hour-long procedure is non-invasive, painless, requires no incision, and patients go home the same day. Desperate and hopeful for relief, I.M. scheduled treatment.
In a preliminary appointment, a mask of her head was created that would be used to calibrate and guide the beams of radiation. Two weeks later she returned for the actual treatment, which lasted about an hour. That night she had another attack, but over the next few weeks the frequency and severity of the episodes gradually diminished and in four weeks, they had vanished completely. After seven years of agonizing pain, I.M. has made a full recovery and is now living life pain free.