Arterial Sling Decompression for Hemifacial Spasm

World Neurosurg. 2019 Dec:132:134. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2019.08.109. Epub 2019 Aug 28.


Hemifacial spasm is a cranial nerve compression syndrome caused by impingement on the facial nerve most frequently by the anterior inferior cerebellar artery or the posterior inferior cerebellar artery. It can be treated with microvascular decompression (MVD) to separate the nerve from the offending artery. Rarely, a large-caliber vessel such as a dolichoectatic vertebrobasilar system may be implicated, requiring more than an MVD. One technique involves placing a sling around the offending vessel to decompress the facial nerve. We find our "neck-tie" technique to be unique and present it in this detailed video. A 36-year-old-woman presented with a 3-month history of severe left hemifacial spasm refractory to medical management. Imaging demonstrated compression of the left facial nerve and its root entry zone by a dolichoectatic vertebrobasilar complex and anterior inferior cerebellar artery. A left retrosigmoid craniotomy was performed. A Dacron sling was placed around the offending vertebral artery in a "neck-tie" fashion. This sling was used to displace the vertebral artery off of the facial nerve and the sling was then sutured in its final position to the petrous dura. In addition, MVD was performed around the facial nerve's root entry zone. Following sling placement and MVD, neuromonitoring demonstrated absence of abnormal motor responses. Postoperative course was uneventful, she remained neurologically intact, and she remained free of symptoms at 6 months' follow-up. This video highlights the decision making for selecting the appropriate case of hemifacial spasm for sling decompression, the key technical nuances, and complication avoidance in these challenging cases.

Keywords: Hemifacial spasm; MVD; Microvascular decompression; Sling.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cerebral Arteries / surgery*
  • Craniotomy
  • Facial Nerve / pathology
  • Female
  • Hemifacial Spasm / surgery*
  • Humans
  • Microvascular Decompression Surgery / methods*
  • Nerve Compression Syndromes / surgery
  • Neurosurgical Procedures / methods*
  • Polyethylene Terephthalates
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vertebrobasilar Insufficiency


  • Polyethylene Terephthalates