Recurrent attacks of facial nerve palsy as the presenting sign of leukemic relapse

Dukhee Rhee, David Myssiorek, Gerald Zahtz, Alan Diamond, Carol Paley, Ashok Shende
Laryngoscope 2002, 112 (2): 235-7

OBJECTIVE: To present an unusual case of recurrent facial palsy resulting from acute leukemic infiltration of the parotid gland.

STUDY DESIGN: Case report.

METHODS: An 11-year-old boy who had been treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) from 3 to 6 years of age presented with intermittent left facial nerve palsy with concurrent ipsilateral parotid fullness. The initial findings at diagnosis and workup are presented, and the disease progression and resolution with therapy are documented.

RESULTS: The patient had been off therapy when this finding developed. A workup for central and viral etiologies for the facial palsy was unrevealing. Biopsy of the parotid gland demonstrated a lymphoblastic leukemic infiltrate. The patient was placed on a chemotherapy protocol for relapsed leukemia, resulting in complete resolution of the facial palsy.

CONCLUSION: Isolated facial nerve dysfunction, albeit rare, has been documented as a sign of central nervous system involvement in leukemia, but until now this presentation has not been described in the setting of leukemic relapse presenting with acute infiltration of the parotid gland.

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