DOI: 10.1227/neu.0000000000002894 ISSN: 0148-396X

Etiology and Management of Recurrent and Persistent Hemifacial Spasm—A Single-Center Experience

Mariam Al Mutawa, Marc Matthes, Henry W. S. Schroeder, Martin E. Weidemeier
  • Neurology (clinical)
  • Surgery


Despite a 90% success rate, microvascular decompression occasionally fails to resolve hemifacial spasm (HFS), necessitating revision surgery. We investigated recurrent cases to identify underlying causes.


We evaluated patients at our institution who underwent revision microvascular decompression because of recurrent or persistent HFS, assessing recurrence causes, decompression techniques, complications, and outcomes. Data considered included demographics, preoperative symptoms, disease duration, offending vessel, and magnetic resonance findings. Surgical notes and intraoperative videos were reviewed, and telephone interviews were conducted for recent outcomes.


Out of our ongoing series of 493 patients, 43 patients (8.7%) required revision surgery with a patient cohort of 33 females and 10 males. The average symptom duration was 10 years. The median time between primary and revision surgery was 14 months. Thirteen patients (30.2%) underwent initial surgery elsewhere. Adhesions of Teflon pledgets to the facial nerve were the primary cause of nonresolution in 23 patients (53.5%), while in 13 (30.2%), a missed vascular compression was identified. Sixteen patients (37.2%) had sufficient decompression by removing the conflicting pledgets. During 10 revisions (23.3%), additional Teflon pledgets were necessary. After a median follow-up of 67 months after revision surgery, 27 patients (62.8%) reported complete spasm resolution. Six patients (14.0%) had a good outcome with over 90% reduction of their spasms, 3 patients (7.0%) stated a fair outcome (50% improvement), while 7 patients (16.3%) had no improvement.


According to our results, adhesions of Teflon to the facial nerve may cause HFS recurrence. Therefore, whenever possible, Teflon should be placed without nerve contact between the brainstem and the offending vessel. Using a sling or bridge technique seems to be beneficial because it leaves the facial nerve completely free. Persistent symptoms often result from missed offending vessels in the pontomedullary sulcus indicating the benefit of endoscopic inspection of this area with an endoscope.

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