Magnetic Resonance Imaging Assessment of Vascular Contact of the Facial Nerve in the Asymptomatic Patient

Nicholas L. Deep, Geoffrey P. Fletcher, Kent D. Nelson, Ameet C. Patel, David M. Barrs, Bernard R. Bendok, Joseph M. Hoxworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Objective The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of facial nerve vascular contact on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in patients without hemifacial spasm (HFS). Study Design Our radiology database was queried to identify consecutive adult patients without a history of HFS, intracranial tumor, brain radiation therapy, intracranial surgery, traumatic brain injury, or trigeminal nerve vascular compression. One hundred high-resolution MRIs of the posterior fossa were independently reviewed by two neuroradiologists for facial nerve vascular contact (200 sides). Main Outcome Measures The prevalence of vascular nerve contact in the non-HFS patient, the location of contact along the facial nerve, the culprit vessel, and severity of compression was recorded. Results The presence of vascular contact in the non-HFS patient may be as high as 53%. It is typically mild to moderate in severity, most commonly involves the cisternal portion, and usually caused by the anterior inferior cerebellar artery. Conclusion Vascular contact of the facial nerve is frequently identified in asymptomatic individuals but tends to be more peripheral and mild compared with previous descriptions of neurovascular contact in HFS patients. These results should be considered in assessing the candidacy of HFS patients for microvascular decompression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)503-509
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Neurological Surgery, Part B: Skull Base
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • MRI
  • asymptomatic
  • facial nerve
  • hemifacial spasm
  • microvascular decompression
  • neurovascular compression

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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