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Facial paralysis during air travel: case series and literature review

  • K L Ah-See (a1), M Shakeel (a2), S K Maini (a2) and S S M Hussain (a3)
Abstract
Objective:

We report three cases of recurrent, unilateral facial palsy associated with air travel.

Method:

The three cases are presented, along with a brief literature review concerning barotrauma and its association with air travel and facial palsy.

Results:

All three patients experienced unilateral facial paralysis during air travel, accompanied by additional symptoms which varied between cases. Symptoms resolved spontaneously in all cases. Two patients received ventilation tube insertion to prevent further recurrence. Computed tomography scanning revealed no bony defect in two patients, while the third exhibited dehiscence of the facial canal which may have contributed to the condition.

Conclusion:

Available evidence suggests that eustachian tube dysfunction can contribute to increased pressure within the middle ear, leading to neuropraxia of the facial nerve. Cases of facial paralysis associated with air travel are under-reported. Since there is no evidence-based management protocol for this condition, further investigation of its pathology is encouraged in order to improve our understanding.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Miss S K Maini, Consultant Otolaryngologist, Ward 45, Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, Aberdeen AB25 2ZN, Scotland, UK Fax: +44 (0)1224 554 569 E-mail: sangeetamaini@nhs.net
References
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The Journal of Laryngology & Otology
  • ISSN: 0022-2151
  • EISSN: 1748-5460
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-laryngology-and-otology
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