Stanford Facial Nerve Center

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Acute Facial Nerve Injury

Rarely, patients may experience trauma to the facial nerve that requires urgent surgical consultation.  Causes for this may include, but are not limited to, injury during a surgery on the face or a traumatic wound that involves the facial nerve.  These cases may be complex and treatment is highly individualized based on the circumstances of injury, time elapsed since injury, and other factors.  In general, if the extent of injury is unknown or uncertain, surgeons may recommend an electrodiagnostic test of the facial nerve in order to estimate the extent of injury.  If the injury is likely a complete transection of the nerve, then urgent repair may be recommended.  In cases where the extent of injury is not known, then electrodiagnostic testing will be arranged and can be used to guide treatment.  Surgical repair of facial nerve trauma involves specialized surgical techniques.  In properly selected patients, surgery to repair an injured nerve can be successful.  In general, better results are obtained by operating earlier after injury.  Delayed repair of traumatic injury to the facial nerve may be less successful than immediate repair.  The circumstances of injury, the likelihood of spontaneous recovery without surgery, and other factors must be weighed carefully in order to create a treatment plan.