Cutaneous Sensibility Changes in Bell’s Palsy Patients

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Abstract

Objective

Bell’s palsy is a cranial nerve VII dysfunction that renders the patient unable to control facial muscles from the affected side. Nevertheless, some patients have reported cutaneous changes in the paretic area. Therefore, cutaneous sensibility changes might be possible additional symptoms within the clinical presentation of this disorder. Accordingly, the aim of this research was to investigate the relationship between cutaneous sensibility and facial paralysis severity in these patients.

Study Design

Prospective longitudinal cohort study.

Settings

Tertiary care medical center.

Subjects and Methods

Twelve acute-onset Bell’s palsy patients were enrolled from March to September 2009. In addition, 12 sex- and age-matched healthy volunteers were tested. Cutaneous sensibility was evaluated with pressure threshold and 2-point discrimination at 6 areas of the face. Facial paralysis severity was evaluated with the House-Brackmann scale.

Results

Statistically significant correlations based on the Spearman’s test were found between facial paralysis severity and cutaneous sensitivity on forehead, eyelid, cheek, nose, and lip (P < .05). Additionally, significant differences based on the Student’s t test were observed between both sides of the face in 2-point discrimination on eyelid, cheek, and lip (P < .05) in Bell’s palsy patients but not in healthy subjects.

Conclusion

Such results suggest a possible relationship between the loss of motor control of the face and changes in facial sensory information processing. Such findings are worth further research about the neurophysiologic changes associated with the cutaneous sensibility disturbances of these patients.

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