Vascular Compression Syndromes
In certain patients, when a blood vessel comes into contact with a nerve coming off the brainstem, this can result in dysfunction of the nerve.
The most common syndrome is trigeminal neuralgia, but numerous syndromes exist:
Though the exact mechanism is not known, the most likely etiology is inflammation of the affected nerve. This inflammation results in “ephaptic transmission” where the nerve “short-circuits” and minimal stimulation results in intense symptoms (such as facial pain or inner ear pain).
By surgically repositioning the artery and/or vein causing nerve compression, this inappropriate conduction can be abated, resulting in improvement of symptoms.