Abnormal brain white matter in patients with hemifacial spasm: a diffusion tensor imaging study

  • Chenguang Guo
  • Hui Xu
  • Xuan Niu
  • Samuel Krimmel
  • Jixin Liu
  • Lin Gao
  • Ming Zhang
  • Yuan WangEmail author
Functional Neuroradiology



Refractory hemifacial contraction and comorbid emotional disorders are major annoyance suffered by patients with hemifacial spasm (HFS). It is currently unknown how whiter matter (WM) abnormalities in the brain contribute to HFS.


To investigate WM alterations in HFS, 26 patients and 29 matched healthy controls were ultimately recruited in this experiment. The whole brain diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) was acquired at 3.0 Tesla scanner. Tract-based spatial statistics (TBSS) analysis was applied to investigate the differences of DTI metrics (fractional anisotropy (FA), mean diffusivity (MD), radial diffusivity (RD) axial diffusivity (AD)) between HFS patients and controls throughout brain WM. The relationship between the severity of facial spasm and affective disturbance in HFS patients, and WM abnormalities was examined using spearman correlation analyses.


TBSS method showed structural alterations in the genu and body of corpus callosum; bilateral inferior longitudinal fasciculus (ILF) and inferior frontal-occipital fasciculus (IFOF); left superior longitudinal fasciculus, anterior, posterior, and superior portion of corona radiata; left posterior limb of the internal capsule; and left posterior thalamic radiation in HFS patients compared with healthy subjects. In addition, the overlapped region of decreased FA together with increased RD and MD was merely localized in the right ILF and IFOF in the HFS group, and abnormality of RD value in this region was positively correlated with the patients’ spasm score.


The present study indicate extensive disruptions of WM integrity, especially the RD changes in right ILF and IFOF, which may provide alternative imaging clues for evaluating the characteristics of HFS.


Hemifacial spasm Diffusion tensor imaging Tract-based spatial statistics White matter 



We thank Dr. Faxiu Bao for help in recruiting HFS patients and the healthy controls.

Funding information

This study was funded by the Natural Science Foundation of Shaanxi Province (No. 2018JM7026), the Xi’an Science and Technology Project (No. 201805102YX10SF36(3)), and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities in Xi’an Jiaotong University (No. xjj2018272).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Medical ImagingThe First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Biomedical Information Engineering of Education Ministry, Institute of Biomedical EngineeringXi’an Jiaotong UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Department of Neural and Pain Sciences, School of DentistryUniversity of Maryland BaltimoreBaltimoreUSA
  4. 4.Center for Brain Imaging, School of Life Science and TechnologyXidian UniversityXi’anPeople’s Republic of China

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