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Radiology Research and Practice
Volume 2013, Article ID 248039, 14 pages
Review Article

Imaging the Facial Nerve: A Contemporary Review

1Department of Otolaryngology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA
2Department of Radiology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY 10016, USA

Received 19 October 2012; Revised 3 February 2013; Accepted 5 February 2013

Academic Editor: Philippe Soyer

Copyright © 2013 Sachin Gupta 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.


Imaging plays a critical role in the evaluation of a number of facial nerve disorders. The facial nerve has a complex anatomical course; thus, a thorough understanding of the course of the facial nerve is essential to localize the sites of pathology. Facial nerve dysfunction can occur from a variety of causes, which can often be identified on imaging. Computed tomography and magnetic resonance imaging are helpful for identifying bony facial canal and soft tissue abnormalities, respectively. Ultrasound of the facial nerve has been used to predict functional outcomes in patients with Bell’s palsy. More recently, diffusion tensor tractography has appeared as a new modality which allows three-dimensional display of facial nerve fibers.