Microvascular decompression (MVD) surgery for hemifacial spasm (HFS) is potentially curative. The findings at repeat MVD in patients with persistent or recurrent HFS were analyzed with the aim to identify factors that may improve surgical outcomes.
Intraoperative findings were determined from review of dictated operative reports and operative diagrams for patients who underwent repeat MVD after prior surgery elsewhere. Clinical follow-up was obtained from the hospital and clinic records, as well as telephone questionnaires.
Among 845 patients who underwent MVD performed by the senior author, 12 had been referred after prior MVD for HFS performed elsewhere. Following repeat MVD, all patients improved and complete spasm resolution was described by 11 of 12 patients after a mean follow-up of 91 ± 55 months (range 28–193). Complications were limited to 1 patient with aggravation of preexisting hearing loss and mild facial weakness and 1 patient with aseptic meningitis without sequelae. Significant factors that may have contributed to the failure of the first surgery included retromastoid craniectomies that did not extend laterally to the sigmoid sinus or inferiorly to the posterior fossa floor in 11 of 12 patients and a prior surgical approach that focused on the cisternal portion of the facial nerve in 9 of 12 patients. In all cases, significant persistent neurovascular compression (NVC) was evident and alleviated more proximally on the facial root exit zone (fREZ).
Most HFS patients will achieve spasm relief with thorough alleviation of NVC of the fREZ, which extends from the pontomedullary sulcus root exit point to the Obersteiner-Redlich transition zone.