Epidemiology of iatrogenic facial nerve injury: a decade of experience

Marc H Hohman, Prabhat K Bhama, Tessa A Hadlock
Laryngoscope 2014, 124 (1): 260-5

OBJECTIVES/HYPOTHESIS: To determine the procedure-specific incidence, risk factors, and injury patterns in patients with iatrogenic facial nerve injury as seen at a tertiary care facial nerve center.

STUDY DESIGN: Retrospective chart review.

METHODS: Facial Nerve Center patient records from 2002 to 2012 were reviewed for cases of iatrogenic facial nerve injury. These were analyzed by type of inciting procedure, injury location, patient demographics, and referral pattern.

RESULTS: Out of 1,810 patient records, 102 were identified that involved iatrogenic facial nerve injury. Oral and maxillofacial surgical procedures accounted for 40% of injuries, resections of head and neck lesions 25%, otologic procedures 17%, cosmetic procedures 11%, and other procedures 7%. The most common operation resulting in facial nerve injury was temporomandibular joint replacement. The most frequent pattern of injury was total hemifacial weakness.

CONCLUSIONS: Iatrogenic facial nerve injury occurs most commonly in temporomandibular joint replacement, mastoidectomy, and parotidectomy. Direct visualization of the nerve may decrease the incidence of injury, and early referral for facial nerve exploration may result in improved outcomes.

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