Microvascular decompression to treat hemifacial spasm: long-term results for a consecutive series of 143 patients

Neurosurgery. 2002 Apr;50(4):712-8; discussion 718-9. doi: 10.1097/00006123-200204000-00005.


Objective: The concept of neurovascular decompression for the treatment of hemifacial spasm is now widely accepted. In this study, we report our long-term results for 145 cases treated with this procedure.

Methods: The results of 145 microvascular decompressions to treat hemifacial spasm (performed between 1980 and 1998) among 143 patients (62.2% female patients and 37.8% male patients; mean age, 54.5 yr) are presented. The onset of symptoms was typical in 95.9% of cases and atypical in 4.1%. Platysma muscle involvement was observed for 24.5% of patients, with a higher incidence among female patients (74.3%). Patients were monitored with annual questionnaires. Twenty-six patients were lost to follow-up monitoring, and 117 are still undergoing follow-up monitoring, with an average period of 9.6 years (range, 1-17.6 yr).

Results: At discharge, 69 patients (59%) were spasm-free and 48 patients (41%) experienced further spasm. At 6 months, the number of spasm-free patients had increased to 108 (92.3%), whereas only 9 patients (7.7%) complained of hemifacial spasm; 44 patients were spasm-free at an average time of 15 weeks. In follow-up examinations (average period, 9.4 yr), 106 patients were spasm-free. Seven patients experienced only temporary relief, with recurrence after 4.5 years. Two patients were spasm-free after 4 or 6 weeks, and the recurrence of spasm was observed 1 year later. Two patients were never completely spasm-free. Among the patients who did not undergo previous surgery elsewhere, only two experienced recurrence.

Conclusion: Deafness was the main postoperative complication (8.3%); most of those cases (66%) occurred before the routine use of intraoperative evoked potential monitoring. Analysis of our series demonstrates that this surgical procedure involves very low risk, is well tolerated by elderly patients, is associated with very low recurrence rates, and is a definitive treatment for more than 90% of cases.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Deafness / etiology
  • Decompression, Surgical* / adverse effects
  • Facial Nerve / blood supply*
  • Facial Nerve / surgery*
  • Female
  • Hemifacial Spasm / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Microcirculation
  • Middle Aged
  • Recurrence
  • Reoperation
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures* / adverse effects