Facial paralysis in Lyme disease

Laryngoscope. 1985 Nov;95(11):1341-5.


Lyme disease is a multisystemic illness caused by a tick-borne spirochete. Once considered unique to the Connecticut coastline, thousands of cases are now documented throughout the United States, northern Europe, and Australia. Unilateral and bilateral facial paralysis may occur in up to 11% of patients with Lyme disease. This paper reviews the clinical course, distinguishing features, and outcome of 124 such palsies in 101 patients seen between 1975 and 1984. The 99.2% spontaneous recovery rate demonstrates the unequivocally excellent prognosis of this palsy and confirms that operative intervention is not indicated. The otolaryngologist should consider this etiology in all otherwise idiopathic facial paralyses, especially when presenting in summer months in endemic areas, or when bilateral. Positive Lyme disease spirochete titers are helpful in the diagnosis. We believe antibiotics should be given to patients with this facial palsy in order to treat any other concurrent manifestations of the illness and to prevent subsequent complications.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Facial Paralysis / diagnosis
  • Facial Paralysis / epidemiology
  • Facial Paralysis / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lyme Disease / complications*
  • Lyme Disease / diagnosis
  • Lyme Disease / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States