Hemifacial spasm: 20-year surgical experience, lesson learned

Hector Soriano-Baron, Olivia Vales-Hidalgo, Emiliano Arvizu-Saldana, Sergio Moreno-Jimenez, Rogelio Revuelta-Gutierrez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Background: Hemifacial spasm is characterized by unilateral, paroxysmal, and involuntary contractions. It is more common in women on the left side. Its evolution is progressive, and it rarely improves without treatment. Methods: Microvascular decompressions (N = 226) were performed in 194 Hispanic patients (May 1992-May 2011). Outcomes were evaluated on a 4-point scale: Excellent (complete remission); good (1-2 spasms/day); bad (>2 spasms/day); and recurrence (relapse after initial excellent/good response). Results: Most patients were female (n = 123); 71 were male. Mean (±SD) age was 49.4 (±11.7) years; age at onset, 43.9 (±11.9) years; time to surgery, 5.7 (±4.7) years. The left side was affected in 114 patients. Typical syndrome occurred in 177 (91.2%); atypical in 17 (8.8%). Findings were primarily vascular compression (n = 185 patients): Anterior inferior cerebellar artery (n = 147), posterior inferior cerebellar artery (n = 12), basilar artery (n = 10), superior cerebellar artery (n = 8), and 2 vessels (n = 8); 9 had no compression. Postsurgical results were primarily excellent (79.9% [n = 155]; good, 4.6% [n = 9]; bad, 15.5% [n = 30]), with recurrence in 21 (10.8%) at mean 51-month (range, 1-133 months) follow-up. Complications included transient hearing loss and facial palsy. Conclusions: The anterior inferior cerebellar artery is involved in most cases of hemifacial spasm. Failure to improve postsurgically after 1 week warrants reoperation. Sex, side, and onset are unrelated to treatment response. Microvascular decompression is the preferred treatment. It is minimally invasive, nondestructive, and achieves the best long-term results, with minor morbidity. To our knowledge, this series is the largest to date on a Hispanic population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number83
JournalSurgical Neurology International
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Cerebellopontine angle
  • facial nerve
  • facial tic
  • hemifacial spasm
  • microvascular decompression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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