Evidences in Neurological Surgery and a Cutting Edge Classification of the Trigeminocardiac Reflex: A Systematic Review

Daniel S. Leon-Ariza, Juan S. Leon-Ariza, Jasvinder Nangiana, Gabriel Vargas Grau, Fidias E. Leon-Sarmiento, Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The trigeminocardiac reflex (TCR) is characterized by bradycardia, decrease of mean arterial blood pressure, and sometimes, asystole during surgery. We critically reviewed TCR studies and devised a novel classification scheme for assessing the reflex. Methods: A comprehensive systematic literature review was performed using PubMed, MEDLINE, Web of Science, EMBASE, and Scielo databases. Eligible studies were extracted based on stringent inclusion and exclusion criteria. Statistical analyses were used to assess cardiovascular variables. TCR was classified according to morphophysiologic aspects involved with reflex elicitation. Results: A total of 575 patients were included in this study. TCR was found in 8.9% of patients. The reflex was more often triggered by interventions made within the anterior cranial fossa. The maxillary branch (type II in the new classification) was the most prevalent nerve branch found to trigger the TCR. Heart rate and mean arterial blood pressure were similarly altered (P = 0.06; F = 0.3912809), covaried with age (P = 0.012; F = 9.302), and inversely correlated to each other (r = −0.27). Conclusions: TCR is a critical cardiovascular phenomenon that must be quickly identified and efficiently classified and should trigger vigilance. Prompt therapeutic measures during neurosurgical procedures should be carefully addressed to avoid unwanted complications. Accurate categorization using the new classification scheme will help to improve understanding and guide the management of TCR in the perioperative period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4-10
Number of pages7
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • Asystole
  • Bradycardia
  • Cerebellopontine angle
  • Hypotension
  • Neurosurgery
  • Trigeminal nerve
  • Trigeminocardiac reflex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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