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J Neurosurg. 2009 Oct;111(4):733-6. doi: 10.3171/2009.3.JNS08393.

Sensitivity of high-resolution three-dimensional magnetic resonance angiography and three-dimensional spoiled-gradient recalled imaging in the prediction of neurovascular compression in patients with hemifacial spasm.

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  • 1Department of Neurological Surgery, Oregon Health & Science University, Portland, Oregon 97239, USA.



Hemifacial spasm is a clinical syndrome caused by vascular compression of the facial nerve in the cerebellopontine angle, which can be relieved by surgical intervention. Advances in medical imaging technology allow for direct visualization of the offending blood vessels in hemifacial spasm and similar conditions (such as trigeminal neuralgia). The utility of high resolution 3D MR angiography and 3D spoiled-gradient recalled (SPGR) imaging sequences for surgical decision-making in hemifacial spasm, as measured by sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values, has not been previously determined.


A retrospective review was undertaken of 23 patients with hemifacial spasm who underwent operations between January 2001 and December 2006 at Oregon Health & Science University. All patients underwent preoperative high-resolution 3D MR angiography and 3D SPGR imaging. The sensitivity of the SPGR imaging/MR angiography interpretation of neurovascular compression (NVC) by both a neurosurgeon and 2 neuroradiologists was determined in relation to the presence of actual NVC during surgery.


All patients were found to have NVC at surgery. After review by a neurosurgeon and 2 neuroradiologists, imaging data from 19 of the 23 patients were evaluated. The neurosurgeon's interpretation had a sensitivity of 79% and a positive predictive value (PPV) of 100%. The first neuroradiologist's interpretation had a sensitivity of 21% with a PPV of 100%. Further interpretation by a blinded second neuroradiologist with expertise in MR imaging of hemifacial spasm and trigeminal neuralgia was conducted, and sensitivity was 59% and PPV was 100%. Specificity was not determined because there were no true negative cases. The negative predictive value was 0% for both the neurosurgeon's and neuroradiologists' evaluations.


Although high-resolution 3D MR angiography and 3D SPGR imaging was helpful in providing information about the anatomical relationship of cranial nerve VII and surrounding blood vessels, the authors determined that in the case of hemifacial spasm these types of imaging did not influence preoperative surgical decisionmaking.

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