About Face

“The doctors, nurses and everyone were really nice, and even better, I felt no discomfort during the procedure.”

If you’ve ever experienced intense, acute pain, you know what a relief it is when the pain finally subsides. But what if the pain doesn’t go away? It was a question Charles Schofield was determined to find an answer for.

Charles battled searing pain on the right side of his face that would start in his nose, cheeks, gums or teeth before traveling up to his eye and head. The pain was so powerful, it wasn’t long before the most basic tasks became a challenge for the Fair Lawn resident. “If I took a shower, as soon as the water hit my head the pain would shoot into my head,” Charles recalls. “Sometimes it would take me a half hour to eat a sandwich.” And forget about touching his face: “The pain would stop me in my tracks,” says Charles.

As time went on, the pain only intensified. “Sometimes it would linger. And the more it occurred, the more it lingered,” Charles says.

The Search For Answers

Charles first sought the advice of his dentist, but the source of the pain wasn’t his teeth or gums. His primary care doctor referred him to a neurologist, who diagnosed Charles with trigeminal neuralgia. In this condition, painful sensations in the face are triggered by the compression of the trigeminal nerve by a blood vessel in the brain.

Charles’ doctor recommended medication as a first-line treatment, but its drowsy side effects made his job overseeing operations at Fair Lawn Memorial Cemetery difficult. “I run equipment as part of my job, and I have to be alert,” he notes.

Two Conditions, One Treatment

Then, Charles heard about Gamma Knife Radiosurgery and the expert team at The Valley Hospital’s Gamma Knife Center. The decision to consider treatment with the Gamma Knife turned out to be the right call for more than one reason: MRIs and a subsequent angiogram revealed an arteriovenous malformation (AVM), a benign mass of arteries and veins, putting pressure on the trigeminal nerve.

In a first at the Gamma Knife Center, Charles underwent Gamma Knife Radiosurgery in April to shrink the mass of blood vessels, thus alleviating the pressure on the trigeminal nerve. Throughout the procedure, Charles was kept relaxed and comfortable by the center’s specialized team. “The doctors, nurses and everyone were really nice, and even better, I felt no discomfort during the procedure,” he says.

Relief At Last

Several months after his Gamma Knife treatment, Charles reports significantly reduced pain, with everyday activities like showering, shaving and eating much more manageable. Follow-up MRIs will help monitor his progress, and the procedure can be repeated if necessary.

For now, though, “the pain comes and goes, but when it does happen it’s very slight,” Charles says. “It only affects my nose and gums now, and it’s not nearly as intense as it used to be—that’s a very good sign.”

* This procedure may not be suitable for every patient. All patients must be evaluated by a physician as to the appropriateness of performing the procedure. The above testimonial represents the individual's response and reaction to the procedure; however, no medical procedure is risk-free. Associated potential risks and complications should be discussed with the physician rendering this procedure.

Find out more about Arteriovenous Malformations (AVM)