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Electrophysiology of Cranial Nerve Testing: Trigeminal and Facial Nerves

Muzyka, Iryna, M.; Estephan, Bachir

Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology: January 2018 - Volume 35 - Issue 1 - p 16–24
doi: 10.1097/WNP.0000000000000445
Invited Review

Summary: The clinical examination of the trigeminal and facial nerves provides significant diagnostic value, especially in the localization of lesions in disorders affecting the central and/or peripheral nervous system. The electrodiagnostic evaluation of these nerves and their pathways adds further accuracy and reliability to the diagnostic investigation and the localization process, especially when different testing methods are combined based on the clinical presentation and the electrophysiological findings. The diagnostic uniqueness of the trigeminal and facial nerves is their connectivity and their coparticipation in reflexes commonly used in clinical practice, namely the blink and corneal reflexes. The other reflexes used in the diagnostic process and lesion localization are very nerve specific and add more diagnostic yield to the workup of certain disorders of the nervous system. This article provides a review of commonly used electrodiagnostic studies and techniques in the evaluation and lesion localization of cranial nerves V and VII.

Department of Neurology, Mayo Clinic, Phoenix, Arizona, U.S.A.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Iryna M. Muzyka, MD, Mayo Clinic, 5777 E Mayo Boulevard, Phoenix, AZ 85054, U.S.A.; e-mail:

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2018 by the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society