Facial nerve palsy: evaluation by contrast-enhanced MR imaging

Clin Radiol. 2001 Nov;56(11):926-32. doi: 10.1053/crad.2001.0730.


Aim: The purpose of this study was to investigate the value of contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance (MR) imaging in patients with peripheral facial nerve palsy.

Materials and methods: MR imaging was performed in 147 patients with facial nerve palsy, using a 1.0 T unit. All of 147 patients were evaluated by contrast-enhanced MR imaging and the pattern of enhancement was compared with that in 300 control subjects evaluated for suspected acoustic neurinoma.

Results: The intrameatal and labyrinthine segments of the normal facial nerve did not show enhancement, whereas enhancement of the distal intrameatal segment and the labyrinthine segment was respectively found in 67% and 43% of patients with Bell's palsy. The geniculate ganglion or the tympanic-mastoid segment was enhanced in 21% of normal controls versus 91% of patients with Bell's palsy. Abnormal enhancement of the non-paralyzed facial nerve was found in a patient with bilateral temporal bone fracture.

Conclusion: Enhancement of the distal intrameatal and labyrinthine segments is specific for facial nerve palsy. Contrast-enhanced MR imaging can reveal inflammatory facial nerve lesions and traumatic nerve injury, including clinically silent damage in trauma.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Bell Palsy / etiology
  • Bell Palsy / pathology*
  • Child
  • Contrast Media
  • Facial Nerve / anatomy & histology
  • Facial Nerve Injuries / etiology
  • Facial Nerve Injuries / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium DTPA
  • Herpes Zoster Oticus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Skull Fractures / complications


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium DTPA