Purpose: To evaluate the use of a palpebral spring, a dynamic facial reanimation technique, in the management of lagophthalmos and exposure keratopathy secondary to facial nerve palsy.
Methods: A palpebral spring was placed in 29 eyelids of 28 patients with symptomatic facial nerve palsy. Preoperative and postoperative symptoms, upper eyelid margin to midpupil distance, lagophthalmos, and exposure keratopathy were evaluated.
Results: At an average of 83 months follow-up, preoperative symptoms improved or resolved in 26 (90%) eyes. The upper eyelid margin to midpupil distance decreased and lagophthalmos and exposure keratopathy significantly improved after palpebral spring placement (p < 0.001). After modification of the technique by suturing the spring to the anterior tarsal surface, rather than encasing the tip in a silicone tube and letting it ride freely, tension of the spring required adjustment in 4 eyes (27%). Dislocation of the spring from the tarsus without exposure through the skin was observed in 1 eyelid (7%). The spring was replaced because of loss of function secondary to metal fatigue in 5 eyelids (33%) after an average of 43 months. Exposure of the spring through the skin was observed in 2 eyelids (14%) and required spring removal from 1 eyelid and replacement of the spring in the other.
Conclusion: A palpebral spring is an effective treatment for lagophthalmos and exposure keratopathy in patients with facial nerve palsy who do not receive adequate relief from the static procedures of lower eyelid tightening and upper eyelid lowering. This technique significantly improved symptoms and signs in these patients while allowing some of the blink reflex.