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Neuroscience Institute

Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders



The Center for Cranial Nerve Disorders was established at Allegheny General Hospital in 2000, treating disabling disorders as trigeminal neuralgia, acoustic neuroma, hemifacial spasm, facial nerve disorder, and intractable vertigo.

Dr. Peter Jannetta, Vice Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery, Allegheny General Hospital, has been responsible for key discoveries in the field of cranial nerve disorders. His procedure of microvascular decompression is the most effective surgical treatment for trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm, and is also useful in the treatment of a variety of other disorders stemming from cranial nerve dysfunction. Dr Jannetta has performed more than 6,000 procedures of a similar nature with an overall success rate that has stood the test of time.

Dr. Jannetta is recognized foremost for his groundbreaking research into the pathology and treatment of cranial nerve compression syndromes - conditions of impairment of one or more of the 12 pairs of cranial nerves involved in, among other things, motor function of the tongue, eyes, and facial muscles. The most prominent of these syndromes is trigeminal neuralgia (TGN), a condition of chronic debilitating pain of the cheek, lips, gums, or chin on one side of the face.

Identifying the cause of the TGN as compression of the fifth cranial nerve (trigeminal nerve) by surrounding blood vessels, Dr. Jannetta developed a microvascular decompression procedure that now offers patients an effective therapeutic alternative when medications fail. The long-term effectiveness of the procedure was heralded by the New England Journal of Medicine in 1996.

Microvascular decompression is a microscopic procedure that involves creating a small opening in the skull behind the ear to examine the trigeminal nerve, reposition any compressive arteries and place a protective pad between the nerve and artery. If the blood vessel pressing on the nerve is a vein, it may be treated in similar fashion or surgically removed.

Related conditions effectively treated as a result of Jannetta's innovation include hemifacial spasm and glossopharyngeal neuralgia, a disorder of the ninth cranial nerve that interferes with a patient's ability to taste and may cause chronic pain of tongue and throat.

Our Areas of Focus:

  • Face pain (facial neuralgia and other disorders with similar symptoms)
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Hemifacial Spasm
  • Meniere's Disease
  • Vertigo
  • Tinnitus
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Torticollis and Spasmodic Torticollis

Associated Physicians


Peter J. Jannetta, MD 


Douglas Chen, MD
Todd Hillman, MD

West Penn Allegheny Health System
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