Background: Corneal protection is a priority in flaccid facial palsy patients. Denervation of the orbicularis oculi muscle results in weak palpebral closure and predisposes patients to severe corneal sequelae. While periorbital static procedures enhance corneal coverage in repose, voluntary closure is only regained through dynamic reinnervation of the muscle. This study aims to elucidate the added effect of dynamic reinnervation of the orbicularis oculi muscle on long-term corneal integrity as well as on dynamic closure of the palpebral aperture. Methods: Retrospective review was performed on two groups of complete palsy patients: those who received solely periorbital static procedures and those who underwent concomitant orbicularis oculi muscle reinnervation and static lid procedures. Only patients with complete ophthalmic examinations were included. Corneal punctate epithelial erosions in addition to static and dynamic palpebral measurements were serially assessed preoperatively and postoperatively. Results: Of 272 facial palsy patients, 26 fit the inclusion criteria. Eleven patients underwent combined muscle reinnervation involving facial-to-masseteric nerve coaptation in addition to static eye procedures, and 15 patients underwent solely static interventions. Analysis revealed a 65.3 percent lower mean punctate epithelial erosion score in reinnervation patients as compared with static patients when evaluated at more than 9 months postoperatively (p < 0.01). Reinnervation patients were also found to have 25.3 percent greater palpebral aperture closure (p < 0.05) and 32.8 percent higher closure velocity (p < 0.01) compared with static patients. Conclusion: In patients with subacute facial palsy, dynamic reanimation of the orbicularis oculi muscle with concomitant static interventions provides lasting corneal protection not seen in patients who receive solely static interventions. CLINICAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapeutic, III.
ASJC Scopus subject areas