Scientific publications

Masseteric-facial nerve transposition for reanimation of the smile in incomplete facial paralysis

Hontanilla B (1), Marre D (2).
(1) Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Clinica Universidad de Navarra, Spain.
(2) Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Clinica Universidad de Navarra, Spain.

Magazine: The British Journal of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Date: Jul 1, 2015

Restorative and Plastic Surgery


Incomplete facial paralysis occurs in about a third of patients with Bell's palsy. Although their faces are symmetrical at rest, when they smile they have varying degrees of disfigurement. Currently, cross-face nerve grafting is one of the most useful techniques for reanimation. Transfer of the masseteric nerve, although widely used for complete paralysis, has not to our knowledge been reported for incomplete palsy.

Between December 2008 and November 2013, we reanimated the faces of 9 patients (2 men and 7 women) with incomplete unilateral facial paralysis with transposition of the masseteric nerve. Sex, age at operation, cause of paralysis, duration of denervation, recipient nerves used, and duration of follow-up were recorded. Commissural excursion, velocity, and patients' satisfaction were evaluated with the FACIAL CLIMA and a questionnaire, respectively.

The mean (SD) age at operation was 39 (±6) years and the duration of denervation was 29 (±19) months. There were no complications that required further intervention. Duration of follow-up ranged from 6-26 months. FACIAL CLIMA showed improvement in both commissural excursion and velocity of more than two thirds in 6 patients, more than one half in 2 patients and less than one half in one.

Qualitative evaluation showed a slight or pronounced improvement in 7/9 patients. The masseteric nerve is a reliable alternative for reanimation of the smile in patients with incomplete facial paralysis. Its main advantages include its consistent anatomy, a one-stage operation, and low morbidity at the donor site.

CITATION  Br J Oral Maxillofac Surg. 2015 Jul 1. pii: S0266-4356(15)00220-X. doi: 10.1016/j.bjoms.2015.06.011.

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