Hemihypoglossal-Facial Nerve Anastomosis for Facial Nerve Reanimation: Case Series and Technical Note

World Neurosurg. 2018 Oct:118:e460-e467. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2018.06.217. Epub 2018 Jul 4.


Background: Hypoglossal nerve injury may result in swallowing and speech problems. To reduce this morbidity and allow the performance of the hypoglossal-facial nerve anastomosis bilaterally, a technique that includes partial splitting of the hypoglossal nerve and skeletonization of the facial nerve within the mastoid process has been applied. The aim of this study is to present clinical results regarding the facial and hypoglossal nerves after the procedure.

Methods: Prospectively collected data from 56 consecutive patients who underwent hemihypoglossal-facial nerve anastomosis (HHFA) were analyzed. The outcome was correlated with epidemiologic data, initial disease, the presence of neurofibromatosis type 2, previous radiosurgery, and the time between nerve injury and reconstructive surgery.

Results: Forty-eight (84%) patients achieved satisfactory outcomes; 8 of them (14%) showed some improvement, and in 1 patient (2%) there was no improvement during long-term observation. The result at follow-up was not related to the time interval between the 2 procedures. However, recovery times for facial tonicity were statistically significantly longer if the procedure was performed after 12 months (P = 0.044). There was no statistically significant association between patient age (P = 0.96) or sex (P = 0.13) and facial nerve function. HHFA resulted in no or minimal tongue atrophy without deviation in 53 patients (93%), and the remainder had mild hemiatrophy with tongue deviation <30 degrees.

Conclusions: HHFA is an effective technique for facial nerve reanimation with acceptable morbidity related to tongue function. Patients with a longer duration of facial palsy still have a good chance for restoration of facial movement but require longer recovery periods.

Keywords: Facial nerve; Facial paralysis; Hypoglossal nerve; Hypoglossal-facial nerve anastomosis; Nerve anastomosis; Vestibular schwannoma.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anastomosis, Surgical / methods
  • Facial Nerve / pathology
  • Facial Nerve / physiology
  • Facial Nerve / surgery*
  • Facial Paralysis / diagnosis
  • Facial Paralysis / surgery*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / pathology
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / physiology
  • Hypoglossal Nerve / surgery*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Regeneration / physiology
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult