Trigeminocardiac reflex induced by maxillary nerve stimulation during sphenopalatine ganglion implantation: A case series

Yousef Hammad, Allison Mootz, Kevin Klein, John R. Zuniga

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: The trigeminocardiac reflex (TCR) is a brainstem reflex following stimulation of the trigeminal nerve, resulting in bradycardia, asystole and hypotension. It has been described in maxillofacial and craniofacial surgeries. This case series highlights TCR events occurring during sphenopalatine ganglion (SPJ) neurostimulator implantation as part of the Pathway CH-2 clinical trial “Sphenopalatine ganglion Stimulation for Treatment of Chronic Cluster Headache”. Methods: This is a case series discussing sphenopalatine ganglion neurostimulator implantation in the pterygopalatine fossa as treatment for intractable cluster headaches. Eight cases are discussed with three demonstrating TCR events. All cases received remifentanil and desflurane for anesthetic maintenance. Results: Each patient with a TCR event experienced severe bradycardia. In two cases, TCR resolved with removal of the introducer, while the third case’s TCR event resolved with both anticholinergic treatment and surgical stimulation cessation. Conclusion: Each TCR event occurred before stimulation of the fixed introducer device, suggesting the cause for the TCR events was mechanical in origin. Due to heightened concern for further TCR events, all subsequent cases had pre-anesthesia external pacing pads placed. Resolution can occur with cessation of surgical manipulation and/or anticholinergic treatment. Management of TCR events requires communication between surgical teams and anesthesia providers, especially during sphenopalatine ganglion implantation when maxillary nerve stimulation is possible.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number973
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Sciences
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Anesthesia
  • Multidisciplinary approach
  • OMFS
  • Sphenopalatine ganglion
  • Trigeminocardiac reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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