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Volume 12 , Issue 4
Fall 1998

Pages 287-292

Posttraumatic Gustatory Neuralgia: A Clinical Model of Trigeminal Neuropathic Pain


PMID: 10425975

Six cases are reported in which the primary complaint was episodic, recurrent facial pain that was triggered by a taste stimulus. The pain first occurred days to weeks after head and neck surgery. Patients reported that a food stimulus placed in the mouth evoked episodic, electric shock-l ike pain in a preauricular location on the surgical side. The smell of food or, less reliably, emotional excitement could also trigger pain. Mandibular movement did not evoke the pain, and between lancinating attachs there was either no pain or only mild discomfort. Following an episode of pain, there was a refractory period during which the pain could not be elicited. Physical examination demonstrated a preauricular sensory loss of variable distribution. No abnormal sweating or vasomotor findings were clinically apparent. No odontogenic, muscular, salivary gland, neurologic, or psychologic pathology was found to explain the clinical symptoms. The pain was not relieved with standard doses of anticonvulsants that are commonly used to treat trigeminal neuralgia. The duration of the recurrent pain symptoms in this group was 8 to 132 months without remission. Gustatory neuralgia may be a discrete syndrome that results from abnormal interactions between salivary efferent fibers and trigeminal sensory afferent fibers in the injured auriculotemporal nerve. The unique features of the disorder make it a potentially useful clinical model for the investigation of autonomic/sensory interactions in neuropathic pain.

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