Arch Craniofac Surg.  2021 Dec;22(6):303-309. 10.7181/acfs.2021.00444.

Facial reanimation using the hypoglossal nerve and ansa cervicalis: a short-term retrospective analysis of surgical outcomes

  • 1Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Hanyang University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea
  • 2Biostatistical Consulting and Research Lab, Medical Research Collaborating Center, Hanyang University, Seoul, Korea


Transferring the hypoglossal nerve to the facial nerve using an end-to-end method is very effective for improving facial motor function. However, this technique may result in hemitongue atrophy. The ansa cervicalis, which arises from the cervical plexus, is also used for facial reanimation. We retrospectively reviewed cases where facial reanimation was performed using the ansa cervicalis to overcome the shortcomings of existing techniques of hypoglossal nerve transfer.
The records of 15 patients who underwent hypoglossal nerve transfer were retrospectively reviewed. Three methods were used: facial reanimation with hypoglossal nerve transfer (group 1), facial nerve reanimation using the ansa cervicalis (group 2), and sural nerve interposition grafting between the hypoglossal nerve and facial nerve (group 3). In group 1, the ansa cervicalis was coapted to neurotize the distal stump of the hypoglossal nerve in a subset of patients. Clinical outcomes were evaluated using the House-Brackmann (H-B) grading system and Emotrics software.
All patients in group 1 (n = 4) achieved H-B grade IV facial function and showed improvements in the oral commissure angle at rest (preoperative vs. postoperative difference, 6.48° ± 0.77°) and while smiling (13.88° ± 2.00°). In groups 2 and 3, the oral commissure angle slightly improved at rest (group 2: 0.95° ± 0.53°, group 3: 1.35° ± 1.02°) and while smiling (group 2: 2.06° ± 0.67°, group 3: 1.23° ± 0.56°). In group 1, reduced tongue morbidity was found in patients who underwent ansa cervicalis transfer.
Facial reanimation with hypoglossal nerve transfer, in combination with hypoglossal nerve neurotization using the ansa cervicalis for complete facial palsy patients, might enable favorable facial reanimation outcomes and reduce tongue morbidity. Facial reanimation using the ansa cervicalis or sural nerve for incomplete facial palsy patients did not lead to remarkable improvements, but it warrants further investigation.


Cervical plexus / Facial paralysis / Hypoglossal nerve
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