Our surgeons are among the most experienced in the world in treating an array of neurosurgical conditions.
Read about our surgical team >
Hemifacial spasm is characterized by frequent involuntary twitching of one side of the face. This twitching or spasm usually starts around the eye and slowly progresses to involve the lower face.
The muscles in the forehead and neck are usually the last to be affected.
Most often, hemifacial spasm is caused by a blood vessel pressing on the facial nerve at the point where the nerve exits the brainstem.
UPMC neurosurgeons are among the most experienced in the U.S. in treating hemifacial spasm with microvascular decompression, which alleviates the spasms by moving the blood vessel away from the nerve.
Our doctors have refined this procedure since first implementing it nearly 40 years ago.
Today, UPMC neurosurgeons perform approximately 75 microvascular decompressions for hemifacial spasm each year, with 92 percent of people experiencing complete relief or dramatically improved symptoms. Surgery causes significant complications in fewer than 5 percent of cases.
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and will ask about any symptoms you are having.
Symptoms may include:
At UPMC, the treatment of choice for severe hemifacial spasm is microvascular decompression. Advances in instruments and techniques has made this treatment option more effective in recent years.
Microvascular decompression is a surgical procedure that relieves abnormal compression of a cranial nerve. The surgery consists of a linear incision behind the ear followed by a craniectomy (bony opening) the size of a silver dollar.
Under the view of a microscope or endoscope, the doctors detect the area where the blood vessel is affecting the nerve and then separate them, leaving a Teflon "pillow" in between.
During surgery, the doctors monitor facial nerve irritability to identify the blood vessel causing the nerve compression, making cure more likely. Monitoring also helps doctors to avoid damaging hearing and facial nerves.
Our neurosurgeons sometimes uses endoscopes that allow them to look around corners as they operate, identify hidden blood vessels, and minimize the impact on sensitive brain tissue.
How can we help you?
Schedule anappointment >
Ask a question >
Request our expertopinion >
1-877-986-9862(within the U.S.)
Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by
A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.
For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.
UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.
Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.
For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com