The trigeminal reflexes (corneal reflex, blink reflex, masseter inhibitory periods, jaw-jerk) and far field scalp potentials (nerve, root, brainstem, subcortical) evoked by percutaneous infraorbital stimulation were recorded in 30 patients with "idiopathic" trigeminal neuralgia (ITN) and 20 with "symptomatic" trigeminal pain (STP): seven postherpetic neuralgia, five multiple sclerosis, four tumour, two vascular malformation, one Tolosa-Hunt syndrome, and one traumatic fracture. All the patients with STP and two of those with ITN had trigeminal reflex abnormalities; 80% of patients with STP and 30% of those with ITN had evoked potential abnormalities. The results indicate that 1) trigeminal reflexes and evoked potentials are both useful in the examination of patients with trigeminal pain, and in cases secondary to specific pathologies provide 100% sensitivity; 2) in "symptomatic" and "idiopathic" paroxysmal pain the primary lesion affects the afferent fibres in the proximal portion of the root or the intrinsic portion in the pons; 3) primary sensory neurons of the A-beta fibre group are involved in both paroxysmal and constant pain, but in the latter the damage is far more severe.
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