Think Neuro

15. A Delicate Surgery That Cures Debilitating Facial Spasms | Dr. Neil A. Martin

Episode Summary

Imagine a twitch that won’t go away. Worse yet, imagine that twitch is in your face. That’s what sufferers of hemifacial spasms experience, day in and day out. The spasms originate deep in the brain, where it connects with the spinal cord. In this crowded channel, the nerves that control facial muscles ride close by blood vessels. As those vessels age, they can sag and come into contact with one of the facial nerves. The pulsing of blood compresses the nerve, 70 times a minute, 24-hours a day, eventually wearing down the insulation on the nerve, causing it to misfire and creating uncontrollable contractions in the face. Dr. Neil Martin, a neurosurgeon, treats hemifacial spasm by creating a nickel-sized opening in the back of the skull and separating the nerve and the intruding vessel. The procedure takes about 90 minutes, and many patients get immediate relief. Listen to this episode to learn how the procedure works and how Dr. Martin uses minimally invasive techniques at PNI to treat other, related conditions. For more information: | (310) 582-7640