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International Journal of Otolaryngology
Volume 2015, Article ID 715126, 3 pages
Research Article

The Relationship of the Facial Nerve to the Condylar Process: A Cadaveric Study with Implications for Open Reduction Internal Fixation

1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, 533 Bolivar Street, Suite 566, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
2Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, University of Colorado, Aurora, CO, USA

Received 7 June 2015; Revised 6 August 2015; Accepted 19 August 2015

Academic Editor: Jeffrey P. Pearson

Copyright © 2015 H. P. Barham et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Introduction. The mandibular condyle is the most common site of mandibular fracture. Surgical treatment of condylar fractures by open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) demands direct visualization of the fracture. This project aimed to investigate the anatomic relationship of the tragus to the facial nerve and condylar process. Materials and Methods. Twelve fresh hemicadavers heads were used. An extended retromandibular/preauricular approach was utilized, with the incision being based parallel to the posterior edge of the ramus. Measurements were obtained from the tragus to the facial nerve and condylar process. Results. The temporozygomatic division of the facial nerve was encountered during each approach, crossing the mandible at the condylar neck. The mean tissue depth separating the facial nerve from the condylar neck was 5.5 mm (range: 3.5 mm–7 mm, SD 1.2 mm). The upper division of the facial nerve crossed the posterior border of the condylar process on average 2.31 cm (SD 0.10 cm) anterior to the tragus. Conclusions. This study suggests that the temporozygomatic division of the facial nerve will be encountered in most approaches to the condylar process. As visualization of the relationship of the facial nerve to condyle is often limited, recognition that, on average, 5.5 mm of tissue separates condylar process from nerve should help reduce the incidence of facial nerve injury during this procedure.