Doctors fix severe facial twitch

August 14, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Have you ever had an uncontrollable twitch in your eye? It can be caused by lack of sleep or too much caffeine. One man suffered from facial spasms for more than 10 years nonstop and it got progressively worse until a neurosurgeon reached out to help.

Vic Oyas M.D., is a neurology patient and doctors are trying to get a 3-D picture of what's causing his eye to twitch. As you can see it never stops and he's been dealing with it for more than a decade.

"It started to twitch in the left side of my face and did that for another year or two, then gradually went down into my chin," said Oyas.

And that twitch continued on down to his neck and shoulder. It's a rare condition called hemi-facial spasms. Oyas is a pediatrician. He says the non-stop twitching makes his young patients uncomfortable.

"I'm listening, and they say, 'Hey doctor, you're eye's twitching,' and 'I'm just used to it,'" said Oyas.

UCLA neurosurgeon Neil Martin, M.D., says the condition is an accident of nature. Oyas has a facial nerve bumping up against not one, but three pulsating arteries.

"This is very complex neurological real estate," said Martin.

To do a craniotomy, doctors would have had to make a major cut through the skull, and neither medications nor Botox worked to stop the spasm. So, Martin proposed another option -- relieving the pressure with a Teflon pad inserted through a small incision behind the ear. This complicated procedure involved using several instruments to lift each delicate artery away from the nerve.

"We used two pads and one shredded piece to hold all three blood vessels away, and then we glue them in place, and we use a biological glue that is the same substance that forms a blood clot," said Martin.

Ten days after the three-hour surgery, the twitch was noticeably better.

"It's pretty much gone, I can smile better," said Oyas.

It will take a few months for Oyas's nerves to relax, but his surgeon expects the twitch to disappear completely.


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