What is orofacial nerve repair?
Injury to the trigeminal nerve can occur for various reasons, such as from facial trauma or oral surgical procedures. The trigeminal nerve is responsible for providing sensation in the face and oral cavity, including part of the tongue. The two most commonly injured branches of the trigeminal nerve are the inferior alveolar nerve and lingual nerve.
Most trigeminal nerve injuries undergo spontaneous recovery after a short period without treatment. However, a small percentage of patients with trigeminal nerve injuries may have permanent sensory loss, including taste, or persistent pain, which may require prompt attention and treatment.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons who have advanced training in orofacial nerve repair can help diagnose and manage injuries to the trigeminal nerve if they occur.
Why should I seek treatment?
Injury to the trigeminal nerve usually causes numbness (including taste loss), but it may also cause unpleasant sensations or pain in the regions affected. This can lead to functional problems, such as talking and chewing, for the patients and affect their overall quality of life. Any sensory loss for more than 6 months is considered permanent.
What are the treatment options?
As most trigeminal nerve injuries undergo spontaneous recovery without treatment, patients with trigeminal nerve injuries may be monitored first.
If required, a specialized neurosensory test can be performed to diagnose and assess the severity of a trigeminal injury. Non-surgical and surgical treatments to improve sensation and function may be performed for suitable patients.
The indications for surgery depend on the nature and severity of the injury, time since the injury and impact on the quality of life. Microsurgery, performed using a microscope, is the surgical technique used for orofacial nerve repair surgery. Surgery can be performed to explore the injured site, remove scar tissue attached to the nerve bundle or remove a section of the nerve. A nerve graft may be used to bridge the continuity defect if present.
Discuss with your surgeon to decide which treatment is best for you.
What to expect after treatment?
Trigeminal nerve injuries are often difficult to treat. Some patients may still have persistent sensory loss following active treatment, but most will not have significant functional issues in their daily activities.
Patients will be reviewed regularly while undergoing treatment. A repeat neurosensory test may be performed to evaluate the progress of the treatment.