What is the pathophysiology of hemifacial spasm?

Updated: Sep 16, 2019
  • Author: Steven Gulevich, MD; Chief Editor: Nicholas Lorenzo, MD, MHA, CPE  more...
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Answer

Irritation of the facial nerve nucleus is believed to lead to hyperexcitability of the facial nerve nucleus, while irritation of the proximal nerve segment may cause ephaptic transmission within the facial nerve. Either mechanism explains the rhythmic involuntary myoclonic contractions observed in hemifacial spasm. [4]

Compressive lesions (eg, tumor, arteriovenous malformation, Paget disease) and noncompressive lesions (eg, stroke, multiple sclerosis plaque, basilar meningitis) may present as hemifacial spasm. Most instances of hemifacial spasm previously thought to be idiopathic were probably caused by aberrant blood vessels (eg, distal branches of the anterior inferior cerebellar artery or vertebral artery) compressing the facial nerve within the cerebellopontine angle.


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