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.
Copyright 2001 The Royal College of Radiologists.