Treating the “Suicide Disease” with a Light Touch | Dr. Garni Barkhoudarian
by Anthony Effinger
The Think Neuro podcast from Pacific Neuroscience Institute takes you into the clinic, operating room and laboratory with doctors and surgeons who are tackling the most challenging brain diseases and disorders. Host: Anthony Effinger
Episode 8: Show Notes
Ever heard of a disease called Trigeminal Neuralgia? It’s called the “Suicide Disease” because it causes unbearable pain in the face and temples. It’s often triggered by everyday things like brushing teeth, shaving, or putting on makeup.
In many cases, the culprit is an out-of-place blood vessel that rubs against the trigeminal nerve in the side of the face. Other causes include tumors, infections, inflammatory conditions, or traumatic injury. Whatever the reason, the nerve short-circuits, bringing on stabbing, searing pain.
Comprehensive Approach to Treatment
Dr. Barkhoudarian and the Pacific Facial Pain Center team offer a comprehensive approach to treatment. They try medication first and move on to surgery if the condition persists. That may mean a minimally invasive surgery, working close to the nerves by the brain. It takes a light touch, and Dr. Barkhoudarian, an expert in keyhole neurosurgery, has one.
Often, the pain is gone as soon as a patient wakes from anesthesia. To a sufferer of Trigeminal Neuralgia, Dr. Barkhoudarian is a miracle worker. To him, it’s another wonder of his profession and one that can make a huge difference in his patients’ lives.
About Dr. Barkhoudarian
Garni Barkhoudarian, MD, FAANS, is a board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeon with a focus on skull base and minimally invasive endoscopic surgery. Dr. Barkhoudarian has particular interest and expertise in pituitary and parasellar tumors, brain tumors, skull-base tumors (including meningiomas, craniopharyngiomas, chordomas and schwannomas), intra-ventricular brain tumors, colloid cysts, trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm and other vascular compression syndromes.
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About the Author
Think Neuro's host is Anthony Effinger, an award-winning journalist who is fascinated with neuroscience and the workings of the brain. Anthony spent 24 years at Bloomberg News, where he covered all aspects of finance, with forays into science and health. In 2006, the Association of Health Care Journalists awarded him first prize for Playing the Odds, an in-depth piece on the changing strategies used to treat prostate cancer. These days, he is a staff writer at Willamette Week, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife and two children.
Last updated: November 24th, 2020