This report describes a new surgical technique to improve the results of conventional hypoglossal-facial nerve anastomosis that does not necessitate the use of nerve grafts or hemihypoglossal nerve splitting.
Using this technique, the mastoid process is partially resected to open the stylomastoid foramen and the descending portion of the facial nerve in the mastoid cavity is exposed by drilling to the level of the external genu and then sectioning its most proximal portion. The hypoglossal nerve beneath the internal jugular vein is exposed at the level of the axis and dissected as proximally as possible. One-half of the hypoglossal nerve is transected: use of less than one-half of the hypoglossal nerve is adequate for approximation to the distal stump of the atrophic facial nerve. The nerve endings, the proximally cut end of the hypoglossal nerve, and the distal stump of the facial nerve are approximated and anastomosed without tension. This technique was used in four patients with long-standing facial paralysis (greater than 24 months), and it provided satisfactory facial reanimation, with no evidence of hemitongue atrophy or dysfunction.
Because it completely preserves glossal function, the hemihypoglossal-facial nerve anastomosis described here constitutes a successful approach in patients with long-standing facial paralysis who do not wish to have tongue function compromised.