Magnetic resonance imaging of the intratemporal facial nerve in idiopathic peripheral facial palsy

Clin Imaging. Mar-Apr 2003;27(2):77-81. doi: 10.1016/s0899-7071(02)00485-0.


The aim of this study was to investigate the prevalence of facial nerve involvement with gadolinium-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (Gd-MRI) in patients with idiopathic peripheral facial palsy (IPFP), and to discuss the localization and the pattern of enhancement. A total of 13 patients (9 female, 4 male) with IFPF were included in this study. Topographic tests and electromyography (EMG) were performed, and MRI was taken. Ten subjects whose cranial MRIs were taken for nonorganic pathology served as the control group. Twelve of 13 paralytic facial nerves had enhancement on postcontrast images. Two facial nerves of the control group demonstrated enhancement. We found a correlation between the enhancement of the facial nerve and the time for recovery. The average time from the onset of facial palsy to the recovery in patients with enhancement was 14 weeks, whereas it was 6 weeks in patient with no enhancement. Finally, all patients had complete recovery of the facial nerve function. We concluded that contrast enhancement of the paralytic facial nerve can be a radiological sign of a neural inflammation and may indicate a prolonged recovery.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Bell Palsy / diagnosis*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Contrast Media
  • Electromyography
  • Facial Nerve / pathology*
  • Female
  • Gadolinium
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Prospective Studies
  • Radiographic Image Enhancement
  • Reference Values
  • Sampling Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology


  • Contrast Media
  • Gadolinium