Microvascular decompression (MVD) is widely considered the treatment of choice for hemifacial spasm (HFS), but not all patients immediately benefit from it. Numerous electrophysiological tests have been employed to monitor the integrity of the facial nerve prior to, during, and after MVD treatment. The authors sought to verify if facial motor evoked potential (FMEP) with paired transcranial magnetic stimulation (pTMS) can be utilized as a tool to predict prognosis following MVD for HFS.
FMEP using pTMS was performed preoperatively and postoperatively for 527 HFS patients who underwent an MVD treatment. Various interstimuli intervals (ISIs), which included 2, 10, 20, 25, 30, 75, and 100 msec, were applied for each paired stimulation and pTMS(%) was obtained. A graph of pTMS(%) versus each ISI was drawn for every patient and its pattern was analyzed in accordance with patients’ clinical outcomes.
With ISIs of 75 and 100 msec, pTMS(%) was physiologically further inhibited, whereas it was relatively facilitated under ISIs of 20, 25, and 30 msec; loss of this specific pattern, that is, further inhibition-relative facilitation, indicated impaired integrity of the facial nerve. Those patients who immediately benefited from an MVD and experienced no relapse tended to show proper restoration of this further inhibition-relative facilitation pattern (p = 0.01). Greater resemblance between the physiological pattern of pTMS(%) and postoperative pTMS(%) was correlated to better outcome (p = 0.019).
A simple linear graph of pTMS(%) versus each ISI may be a helpful tool to predict prognosis for HFS following an MVD.