Electrophysiological investigation of hemifacial spasm: F-waves of the facial muscles

M. Ishikawa, T. Ohira, J. Namiki, K. Gotoh, M. Takase, S. Toya

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50 Citations (Scopus)


In patients with hemifacial spasm (HFS), the spasm is due to cross-compression of the facial nerve by a blood vessel. There are currently two hypotheses for the mechanism of HFS: 1) the spasm is caused by ephaptic transmission and an increase in excitability at the site of compression; and 2) the spasm is caused by hyperexcitability in the facial nerve nucleus. In peripheral nerves, F-waves, which result from the backfiring of antidromically activated anterior horn cells, have been proposed as indices of proximal motoneuron conduction and anterior horn cell excitability. Enhancement of the F-waves indicates increased anterior horn cell excitability. We have therefore measured F-waves in the facial muscle of HFS patients in order to investigate the exitability of the facial nerve nucleus. The authors obtained facial nerve evoked responses from 20 HFS patients before microvascular decompression (MVD), 10 HFS patients after MVD and 10 healthy controls. The F-waves, obtained with surface electrodes from the mentalis muscle, were the second response after the M-wave. On the patient's spasm side, the F-wave duration, F/M amplitude ratio and frequency of F-wave appearance significantly increased compared with those of the normal side or healthy controls; minimum latency and chronodispersion did not significantly differ between these groups. In patients whose spasm disappeared completely following MVD, the abnormal muscle response (lateral spread), which is a characteristic sign of HFS, and the enhancement of the F-wave eventually also disappeared. Because of the correlation between HFS and F-waves, the authors' study supports the hypothesis that the cause of HFS is hyperexcitability of the facial motonucleus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-32
Number of pages9
JournalActa Neurochirurgica
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996


  • F-wave
  • Hemifacial spasm
  • Lateral spread
  • Surface electrode

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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