Diagnosing hemifacial spasm might involve a physical exam. Imaging tests might find the cause of the condition.

MRI uses a magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of the head. This can help find the cause of hemifacial spasm. A contrast dye put into a blood vessel can show whether a blood vessel is touching the facial nerve. This is called magnetic resonance angiogram.

Diagnosing hemifacial spasm doesn't always need an MRI scan or other imaging test. Imaging tests might be for people whose symptoms aren't typical or who are having surgery.


Treatment for hemifacial spasm may include:

  • Botulinum injections. A shot of botulinum toxin (Botox) into the affected muscles keeps the muscles from moving for a while. This treatment needs to be repeated every few months. It controls symptoms in most people.
  • Other medicines. Some medicines, including anticonvulsant drugs, can relieve hemifacial spasm in some people.
  • Surgery. There are several types of surgery that can help relieve hemifacial spasm. One type of surgery, called decompression, involves making an opening in the skull and opening the covering of the brain, called the dura. This exposes the facial nerve where it leaves the brainstem.

    A surgeon then finds the blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve. Putting a spongelike material between the nerve and blood vessel eases pressure on the nerve. This surgery often works to relieve hemifacial spasm.

    Other procedures include destroying parts of the facial nerve with surgery and heat and radio waves, called radiofrequency thermocoagulation.

Hemifacial spasm care at Mayo Clinic

June 28, 2023
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