Neoplastic causes of nonacute facial paralysis: A review of 221 cases | Ear, Nose & Throat Journal Skip to content Skip to navigation

Neoplastic causes of nonacute facial paralysis: A review of 221 cases

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September 19, 2016
by John P. Leonetti, MD; Sam J. Marzo, MD; Douglas A. Anderson, MD; Joshua M. Sappington, MD


We conducted a retrospective review to assess the clinical presentation of patients with tumor-related nonacute complete peripheral facial weakness or an incomplete partial facial paresis and to provide an algorithm for the evaluation and management of these patients. Our study population was made up of 221 patients-131 females and 90 males, aged 14 to 79 years (mean: 49.7)-who had been referred to the Facial Nerve Disorders Clinic at our tertiary care academic medical center over a 23-year period with a documented neoplastic cause of facial paralysis. In addition to demographic data, we compiled information on clinical signs and symptoms, radiologic and pathologic findings, and surgical approaches. All patients exhibited gradual-onset facial weakness or facial twitching. Imaging identified an extratemporal tumor in 128 patients (58%), an intratemporal lesion in 55 patients (25%), and an intradural mass in 38 (17%). Almost all of the extratemporal tumors (99%) were malignant, while 91% of the intratemporal and intradural tumors were benign. A transtemporal surgical approach was used in the 93 intratemporal and intradural tumor resections, while the 128 extratemporal lesions required a parotidectomy with partial temporal bone dissection. The vast majority of patients (97%) underwent facial reanimation. We conclude that gradual-onset facial paralysis or twitching may occur as a result of a neoplastic invasion of the facial nerve along its course from the cerebellopontine angle to the parotid gland. We caution readers to beware of a diagnosis of “atypical Bell's palsy.”

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