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J Neurosurg. 2008 Sep;109(3):410-5. doi: 10.3171/JNS/2008/109/9/0410.

Microvascular decompression for hemifacial spasm: long-term results from 114 operations performed without neurophysiological monitoring.

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Department of Neurosurgery, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77096, USA.



Microvascular decompression (MVD) of the facial nerve is an effective treatment for hemifacial spasm (HFS), but the procedure is associated with a significant risk of complications such as hearing loss and facial weakness. Many surgeons advocate the use of intraoperative brainstem auditory evoked response (BAER) monitoring in an attempt to improve surgical outcomes. The authors critically assessed a large series of patients with HFS who underwent MVD without neurophysiological monitoring.


The authors retrospectively identified 114 consecutive patients, with a history of HFS and without a history of HFS surgery, in whom MVD was performed by a single surgeon without the use of neurophysiological monitoring. Postoperative outcomes were determined by reviewing records and through telephone interviews. At least 1 year of postoperative follow-up data were available for 91 of the 114 patients, and the median follow-up duration in all cases was 8 years (range 3 months-23 years). A Kaplan-Meier analysis showed that 86% of the patients were spasm free at 10 years postoperatively.


There were no surgical deaths or major deficits, and complications included 1 case of postoperative deafness, 1 of permanent subtotal hearing loss, and 10 of delayed facial palsy, 2 of which did not completely resolve at last follow-up. The outcomes, rates of hearing loss, and other complications compared well with those reported in studies in which investigators used intraoperative monitoring.


The results suggest that MVD without neurophysiological monitoring is a safe and effective treatment option in patients with HFS. Although BAER monitoring may be a valuable adjunct to surgery at centers experienced with the modality, the absence of intraoperative monitoring should not prevent neurosurgeons from performing MVD in patients with HFS.

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