Columbia, Missouri 65212

  • Facial Nerve Paresis


Facial nerve paralysis is due to inflammation around the facial nerve. Current treatment for facial nerve paralysis is a 10 day course of oral steroids (which will reduce the inflammation), with electrodiagnostic testing. There have been limited studies on the use of intratympanic steroid injection, in addition to oral steroid, in the recovery of facial nerve paralysis. There are indications that the use of intratympanic injections, in addition to the oral steroids, will speed up the recovery rate of the facial nerve paralysis, as well as improve the complete recovery of the facial nerve paralysis. This study will randomize patients with facial nerve paralysis into two groups: 1) oral steroid only and 2) oral steroid plus a 3 intratympanic steroid injections spaced out over three weeks. There are a subset of patients that are unable to take oral steroids for medical reasons (such as diabetes); these patients will be placed into a third group and only receive 3 intratympanic steroid injections space out over three weeks. Subjects that are to receive the intratympanic injection will receive pre- and post-hearing exams as part of their standard of care. Patients will be evaluated via videorecording by two blinded investigators as well as in person evaluations by the unblinded treating physician. Subjects will be followed until complete facial nerve paralysis recovery or one year post-treatment, whichever comes first.

Study summary:

Facial nerve paralysis is due to inflammation surrounding the facial nerve. Current clinical practice guidelines for treatment of facial nerve paralysis recommend a 10 day course of oral steroids +/- oral acyclovir. Treatment should begin within 72 hours of symptom onset. In patients with complete facial paralysis, electrodiagnostic testing should be offered to the patient (1-2). In patients with 90% degeneration on electroneuronography (ENoG) testing, facial nerve decompression may be considered but is not a current recommendation. In 1973, Bryant reported on ten cases where intratympanic steroid injection was used for the treatment of Bell's palsy (3). All but one of these patients had complete recovery of their facial nerve function. The remaining patient had 75% recovery. None of these patients suffered complications from the injections. The next study published on intratympanic steroid injection for Bell's palsy was not published until 2014 (4). It was a randomized control trial that divided patients into standard treatment (oral steroids and acyclovir) versus standard treatment with intratympanic steroid injection. There was not a statistically significant difference between the complete recovery rate of the control group and of the intratympanic steroid group; however, the time to recovery was significantly shorter in the intratympanic steroid injection group as compared to the control group. Limitations of this study include small sample size and high attrition rate. There have not been any other studies published in the literature looking at improving facial nerve recovery in idiopathic facial nerve paralysis with the use of intratympanic steroid injections.


Inclusion Criteria: - English as primary language - Acute unilateral facial palsy without skin lesions which developed within a 72-hour period and is present for 21 days or less. - Moderate to severe facial palsy [House-Brackmann grade IV or greater] Exclusion Criteria: - Another cause of facial nerve paralysis that is not idiopathic - Otologic disease including otitis media, temporal bone fracture, a previous history of facial nerve palsy in either side, history of otologic surgery, and suspected Ramsay Hunt syndrome. - Systemic disease including history of tuberculosis, history of head and neck cancer, other neurological disorders, recent use of ototoxic medications, liver or renal dysfunction, and other illnesses that would contraindicate the use of high-dose steroid therapy. - Pregnancy



Primary Contact:

Principal Investigator
Arnaldo Rivera, MD
University of Missouri-Columbia

Rebecca I Schneider, MS
Phone: 573-882-2549

Backup Contact:


Location Contact:

Columbia, Missouri 65212
United States

Rebecca Schneider, MS
Phone: 573-882-2549

Site Status: Recruiting

Data Source:

Date Processed: August 03, 2021

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