Facial paralysis is a very disabling condition, both functionally and cosmetically. Despite the different methods of facial reanimation that have been described, there is no single method that will restore normal facial tone and motion. Of the methods available, primary neurorrhaphy is probably the most effective. The recovery period, however, is prolonged and, as a result, muscle tone and bulk may be lost. The hypoglossal-facial anastomosis is also a very reliable and effective technique but requires necessary interruption of both major cranial nerve trunks. Transfer of a neuromuscular pedicle (based on the ansa hypoglossi) has been offered as a method of facial reanimation that involves neither prolonged recovery nor interruption of the major cranial nerve functions. The application of this technique for reinnervation of a paralyzed larynx was first described by Tucker in 1970, and the technique was applied to facial muscle (in animal models) in 1977. The effectiveness of this technique—and its application in the management of facial paralysis in the human patient—remains controversial. We report our experience with a series of six patients who underwent neuromuscular pedicle transfer in conjunction with other more conventional methods of facial reanimation. The function of the pedicle and its contribution to the overall facial rehabilitation were assessed clinically and electromyographically. Factors influencing the success of the procedure and clinical and experimental evidence to support its application are discussed. While our experience with this technique is limited, it would appear that the neuromuscular pedicle transfer may play a useful adjunctive role in reanimation of the face in selective cases of facial paralysis.
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