Spinal and Nucleus Caudalis Dorsal Root Entry Zone Lesioning for Chronic Pain: Efficacy and Outcomes

Srinivas Chivukula, Zachary J. Tempel, Ching Jen Chen, Samuel S. Shin, Abhiram V. Gande, John J. Moossy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background The role for nucleus caudalis (NC) and spinal dorsal root entry zone (DREZ) lesioning in the management of chronic pain emanating from increased electrical activity in the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and brainstem remains largely uncharted. Methods All patients who underwent NC and spinal DREZ lesioning by a single surgeon were identified and follow-up was obtained by telephone questionnaires. Patient demographics, surgical details, outcomes, and complications were critically reviewed for all patients identified. Results Of 83 patients identified, 53 (63.9%) were male. Indications for NC DREZ lesioning included trigeminal neuropathic pain (6), trigeminal deafferentation pain (3), glossopharyngeal or occipital neuralgia (3), post-herpetic neuralgia (3), and trauma (1); for spinal DREZ lesioning, indications included brachial plexus avulsion (20), post-herpetic neuralgia (19), spinal cord injury (11), phantom limb pain (8), pelvic pain (5), and complex regional pain syndrome (4). Pain relief was most significant among patients with trigeminal pain, traumatic brachial plexus avulsion injuries, spinal cord injury, and traumatic phantom limb pain. Mean pain reduction averaged 58.3% at a mean follow-up of 8.3 years. Complications included 3 cases of paresis, 3 cases of neuropathy/radiculopathy, 2 cases of ataxia, 3 general medical conditions (colitis, 2; atelectasis, 1), and 2 cases of persistent incisional site pain. Pain relief lasted an average of 4.3 years. Conclusions Spinal and NC DREZ lesioning can provide effective relief in well-selected patients with intractable chronic pain conditions arising from trigeminal pain, spinal cord injury, brachial plexus avulsions, post-herpetic neuralgia, and phantom limb pain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)494-504
Number of pages11
JournalWorld neurosurgery
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Chronic pain
  • Dorsal root entry zone
  • DREZ
  • Efficacy
  • Neuromodulation
  • Nucleus caudalis
  • Spinal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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