Hemifacial spasm: clinical findings and treatment

Muscle Nerve. 1998 Dec;21(12):1740-7. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-4598(199812)21:12<1740::aid-mus17>3.0.co;2-v.


Hemifacial spasm (HFS) is a peripherally induced movement disorder characterized by involuntary, unilateral, intermittent, irregular, tonic or clonic contractions of muscles innervated by the ipsilateral facial nerve. We reviewed the clinical features and response to different treatments in 158 patients (61% women) with HFS evaluated at our Movement Disorders Clinic. The mean age at onset was 48.5+/-14.1 years (range: 15-87) and the mean duration of symptoms was 11.4+/-8.5 (range: 0.5-53) years. The left side was affected in 56% instances; 5 patients had bilateral HFS. The lower lid was the most common site of the initial involvement followed by cheek and perioral region. Involuntary eye closure which interfered with vision and social embarrassment were the most common complaints. HFS was associated with trigeminal neuralgia in 5.1% of the cases and 5.7% had prior history of Bell's palsy. Although vascular abnormalities, facial nerve injury, and intracranial tumor were responsible for symptoms in some patients, most patients had no apparent etiology. Botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) injections, used in 110 patients, provided marked to moderate improvement in 95% of patients. Seven of the 25 (28%) patients who had microvascular decompression reported permanent complications and the HFS recurred in 5 (20%). Although occasionally troublesome, HFS is generally a benign disorder that can be treated effectively with either BTX-A or microvascular decompression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A / therapeutic use*
  • Electromyography
  • Eyelids / physiopathology
  • Facial Paralysis / complications
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Hemifacial Spasm / complications
  • Hemifacial Spasm / drug therapy*
  • Hemifacial Spasm / physiopathology*
  • Hemifacial Spasm / surgery
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuromuscular Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia / complications
  • Vascular Surgical Procedures


  • Neuromuscular Agents
  • Botulinum Toxins, Type A