INFORMATION ABOUT HEMIFACIAL SPASM
Dr. S. Kraft
There are several disorders that cause excessive blinking or severe spasms (marked tightening) of the eyelids. Patients with these disorders find it difficult to keep their eyes open. Both the reflex and voluntary movements of the eyelids are usually involved. Two of the most severe disorders that lead to eyelid spasms are essential blepharospasm and hemifacial spasm.
Patients with hemifacial spasm show excessive activity of muscles on one side of the face. (se photos of a patient). The signs can develop anytime after the age of 30. The muscles that are most severely affected are the ones around the eye, mouth, and cheek. It is almost always caused by pressure of one of the arteries within the brain on the nerve (the facial nerve) that controls the facial muscles. In very rare cases, it can be caused by a tumour at the base of the brain on one side. For this reason it is sometimes necessary to perform a CT scan or MRI scan of the brain to be sure that there is nothing actually pressing on the nerve. If a problem is found then referral to a neurosurgeon would be needed.
The common form of hemifacial spasm, where the artery is touching the facial nerve, can be cured by brain surgery to separate the nerve from the artery. The other treatment options are oral medications or injections of botulinum toxin (BotoxTM or XeominTM) into the overacting muscles. (see information on Botulinum Toxin for Hemifacial Spasm)
The photos show a patient with hemifacial spasm before and after treatment with Botulinum Toxin.
SUPPORT GROUP INFORMATION
The Benign Essential Blepharospasm Canadian Research Foundation (BEBCRF) is happy to welcome new members, including those with hemifacial spasm. They organize semi-annual meeting for members and send out periodic information updates on blepharospasm.
To contact the Foundation:
E-mail address is: www.blepharospasm.ca
Office phone: 1-866-890-2473
BEB Canadian Research Foundation, Inc.
78 Andrew Park
Canada, L4L 1E9