The aim of the study was to investigate the clinical presentation and prognosis of recurrent facial nerve palsy (RFNP) in children. The files of 182 patients referred to the Schneider Children's Medical Centre of Israel for neurological evaluation of isolated peripheral facial nerve palsy between October 1992 and December 1998 were reviewed. RFNP was found in 11 patients (9 females, 2 males), with an incidence of 6%. In two males, the aetiology was traced to Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome and these patients were separated from the rest of the group. Three children had two episodes of facial nerve paresis which completely resolved clinically within several weeks. Six other children underwent electrophysiological studies. Two of the latter with residual neurological damage, and one child with abnormal blink reflex only, showed decreased facial nerve conduction velocity and abnormal blink reflex. Three children with complete recovery had disturbed blink reflex only with normal nerve conduction. Brain imaging studies as well as laboratory work-up were non-contributory in all cases.
Conclusion: The frequency of recurrent facial nerve palsy in children was similar to that in adults. The most significant factors in the evaluation of recurrent facial nerve palsy are medical history and physical findings at diagnosis and after short follow-up. In our patients, electrophysiological studies did not have either clinical or prognostic significance. The rate of full clinical recovery is about 70%, lower than in Bell palsy.