BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: The prevalence of patent facial nerve canals and meningoceles along the facial nerve course is unknown. This study aimed to assess the frequency of such findings in asymptomatic patients. MATERIALS AND METHODS: A retrospective review was completed of patients with high-resolution MR imaging of the temporal bone whose clinical presentations were unrelated to facial nerve pathology. Facial nerve canals were assessed for the presence of fluid along each segment and meningoceles within either the labyrinthine segment (fluid-filled distention, 1.0-mm diameter) or geniculate ganglion fossa (fluid-filled distention, 2.0-mm diameter). If a meningocele was noted, images were assessed for signs of CSF leak. RESULTS: Of 204 patients, 36 (17.6%) had fluid in the labyrinthine segment of the facial nerve canal and 40 (19.6%) had fluid in the geniculate ganglion fossa. Five (2.5%) had meningoceles of the geniculate ganglion fossa; no meningoceles of the labyrinthine segment of the canal were observed. No significant difference was observed in the ages of patients with fluid in the labyrinthine segment of the canal or geniculate ganglion compared with those without fluid (P .177 and P .896, respectively). Of the patients with a meningocele, one had a partially empty sella and none had imaging evidence of CSF leak or intracranial hypotension. CONCLUSIONS: Fluid within the labyrinthine and geniculate segments of the facial nerve canal is relatively common. Geniculate ganglion meningoceles are also observed, though less frequently. Such findings should be considered of little clinical importance without radiologic evidence of CSF otorrhea, meningitis, or facial nerve palsy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Clinical Neurology