Facial palsy secondary to cholesteatoma: analysis of outcome following surgery.
Facial palsy is a rare presenting feature of cholesteatoma. Prompt treatment usually results in a good outcome, but if treatment is delayed the prognosis can be difficult to predict. We retrospectively reviewed 326 consecutive patients who had undergone temporal bone surgery for cholesteatoma. Eleven patients had presented with facial palsy, of whom eight had petrous apex involvement and three had disease confined to the middle-ear cleft. All patients with middle-ear disease were operated upon within two months of presentation, and all showed some recovery in facial function. The diagnosis had been delayed in all eight cases of apical disease, with four cases having had a long-standing total weakness. One case treated after seven months' partial weakness achieved a full recovery. In three cases of long-standing partial weakness, pre-operative facial function was preserved by maintaining the facial nerve in its normal anatomical location. Facial palsy associated with cholesteatoma should be treated as early as possible. Recovery can occur even if treatment is delayed for up to seven months. After this time, recovery is increasingly unlikely, but any residual function can be maintained and further deterioration prevented.
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