Facial Nerve Problems (cont.)

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How are the causes of facial nerve dysfunction diagnosed?

Causes of facial nerve disorder vary from unknown to life threatening. Sometimes, there is a specific treatment for the problem. Accordingly, it is important to investigate why the problem has occurred. The specific tests used for diagnosis will vary from patient to patient, but include:

  1. Hearing tests: Hearing tests are done to assess the status of the auditory nerve. The stapedial reflex test can evaluate the branch of the facial nerve that supplies motor fibers to one of the muscles in the middle ear.
  2. Balance tests: Will help find out if part of the auditory nerve is involved.
  3. Tear tests: The loss of the ability to form tears may help to locate the site and severity of a facial nerve lesion.
  4. Taste tests: The loss of taste in the front of the tongue may help locate the site and severity of a facial nerve lesion.
  5. Salivation test: Decreased flow of saliva may help locate the site and severity of a facial nerve lesion.
  6. Imaging studies: These tests help determine if there is infection, a tumor, a bone fracture, or any other abnormality. These studies usually include a CT scan and/or a MRI scan.
  7. Electrical nerve stimulation tests: Stimulation of the nerve by an electrical current tests whether the nerve can still cause muscles to contract. It can be used to evaluate progression of the disease. For example, if testing indicates equal muscle response on both sides of the face, the patient can be expected to have complete return of facial function in three to six weeks without significant deformity.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/21/2014

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