The trigeminal trophic syndrome: an unusual cause of face pain, dysaesthesias, anaesthesia and skin/soft tissue lesions


Ivan Garza, MD, Mayo Clinic, 200 First Street SW, Rochester, MN 55905, USA. Tel. + 1 507 284 1588, fax + 1 507 284 4795, e-mail


The trigeminal trophic syndrome is an unusual consequence of trigeminal nerve injury that results in facial anaesthesia, dysaesthesia and skin ulceration. Limited knowledge is available. The aim of this study was to increase the knowledge of this syndrome by performing a retrospective medical record review and case series report. Fourteen cases were identified. The female : male ratio was 6:1. Mean age of onset was 45 years (range 6–82). The cause was iatrogenic in most. Latent period to onset ranged from days to almost one decade. The majority (n = 12) had bothersome dysaesthesias. Most (n = 9) self-manipulated the face; a third (n = 5) did not. Most ulcers affected the second trigeminal division, mainly in the infraorbital nerve distribution. Neuropathic and/or neuralgic facial pain occurred in 50% (n = 7). Pain intensity was severe in most (n = 6). Gabapentin gave relief in two. To conclude, trigeminal trophic syndrome follows injury to the trigeminal nerve or its nuclei. For unclear reasons, most ulcerations follow infraorbital nerve distribution. Self-manipulation may contribute to ulcer development rather than being required. Gabapentin may help pain.