Microvascular decompression (MVD) is an invasive procedure that involves redirecting or removing an artery or vein that compresses a cranial nerve.
It is performed to relieve the pain and muscle twitching that can result from this compression—typically a cause of such conditions as trigeminal neuralgia, vagoglossopharyngeal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm. Although MVD has a high success rate, pain can recur in some patients and the procedure itself poses small risk for decreased hearing, facial weakness and/or numbness, double vision and stroke.
With MVD, the surgeon drills a small hole in the skull to expose the trigeminal nerve. Blood vessels that come in contact with the nerve are either removed (veins) or directed away (arteries). With the latter, a tiny sponge-like material is then inserted between the nerve and artery to prevent the blood vessel from returning to its normal position.