Does the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic really increase the frequency of peripheral facial palsy?

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Mutlu A., Kalcioglu M. T. , Gunduz A. Y. , Bakici B., Yilmaz U., Cag Y.

American journal of otolaryngology, vol.42, pp.103032, 2021 (Peer-Reviewed Journal) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 42
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.amjoto.2021.103032
  • Journal Name: American journal of otolaryngology
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded, Scopus, Biotechnology Research Abstracts, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.103032
  • Keywords: Coronavirus infections, COVID-19, Coronavirus, Pandemic facial paralysis Bell's palsy, NERVE PALSY, CORONAVIRUS, PATIENT


Purpose: Publications about increased number of peripheral facial paralysis in the COVID-19 pandemic emerged in the literature. However, these studies comprised of an estimate rather than a broad analysis of exact numbers. In this study, we planned to investigate whether the pandemic really resulted in an increase in facial paralysis cases admitted to the hospital by evaluating the cases who applied to our hospital due to facial paralysis in the COVID-19 pandemic year and in the previous 4 years. Materials and methods: Patients who applied to our hospital due to facial paralysis between March 2016-February 2017 (Group 1), between March 2017-February 2018 (Group 2), between March 2018-February 2019 (Group 3), between March 2019-February 2020 (Group 4), and between March 2020-February 2021 (Group 5) were investigated and detailed data were noted. Results: 156, 164, 149, 172 and 157 patients were admitted to the hospital due to peripheral facial paralysis in Group 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, respectively. Of these patients, 155, 164, 145, 169, and 153 were Bell's palsy, respectively. SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test was positive in only 2 of the 153 patients who were diagnosed in the year of the pandemic. Conclusions: This study showed that the number of peripheral facial paralysis detected during the COVID-19 pandemic was similar to previous years. Very few number of positive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test results may have been found incidentally in Bell's palsy patients. Theses stating that SARS-CoV-2 causes peripheral facial paralysis should be supported by laboratory studies and postmortem research.