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J Korean Radiol Soc. 2000 Jul;43(1):9-16. Korean. Original Article.
Park YO , Lee MJ , Yoo JH , Lee CJ .
Department of Dignostic Radiology, National Medical Center, Korea.
Department of Diagnostic Radiology, DongDaeMoon Hospital of Ewha Women's University, College of Medicine, Korea.

PURPOSE: To evaluate the findings of normal facial nerve, as seen on oblique sagittal MRI using a TMJ (tem-poromandibular joint) surface coil, and then to evaluate abnormal findings of peripheral facial nerve palsy. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed the MR findings of 20 patients with peripheral facial palsy and 50 normal facial nerves of 36 patients without facial palsy. All underwent oblique sagittal MRI using a TMJ surface coil. We analyzed the course, signal intensity, thickness, location, and degree of enhancement of the facial nerve. According to the angle made by the proximal parotid segment on the axis of the mastoid seg-ment, course was classified as anterior angulation (obtuse and acute, or buckling), straight and posterior angu-lation. RESULTS: Among 50 normal facial nerves, 24 (48%) were straight, and 23 (46%) demonstrated anterior angula-tion; 34 (68%) showed iso signal intensity on T1WI. In the group of patients, course on the affected side was either straight (40%) or showed anterior angulation (55%), and signal intensity in 80% of cases was isointense. These findings were similar to those in the normal group, but in patients with post-traumatic or post-operative facial palsy, buckling, of course, appeared. In 12 of 18 facial palsy cases (66.6%) in which contrast materials were administered, a normal facial nerve of the opposite facial canal showed mild enhancement on more than one segment, but on the affected side the facial nerve showed diffuse enhancement in all 14 patients with acute facial palsy. Eleven of these (79%) showed fair or marked enhancement on more than one segment, and in 12 (86%), mild enhancement of the proximal parotid segment was noted. Four of six chronic facial palsy cases (66.6%) showed atrophy of the facial nerve. CONCLUSION: When oblique sagittal MR images are obtained using a TMJ surface coil, enhancement of the proximal parotid segment of the facial nerve and fair or marked enhancement of at least one segment within the facial canal always suggests pathology of the facial nerve. The use of this modality, together with the coil, is, therefore, an effective complementary technique for the evaluation of a facial nerve.

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