What Are the Symptoms of Moebius Syndrome?
Moebius syndrome is generally characterized by paralysis or weakness of multiple facial nerves. The National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) indicates the condition most often affects the sixth and seventh facial nerves, but other nerves can also be impacted.
In Moebius syndrome instances where the sixth cranial nerve is paralyzed or weakened, the eye is unable to turn past its midline. Or, in cases where other cranial nerves are affected, facial paralysis or weakness can occur.
Moebius syndrome has been linked to a wide range of facial abnormalities. Children with Moebius syndrome sometimes have a short, malformed tongue, extremely small jaw, or cleft palate. In these cases, children are susceptible to feeding and breathing problems.
Kids with Moebius syndrome can also experience ear abnormalities, such as underdevelopment or no development of the outer part of the ear. If the eighth cranial nerve has been affected, children with Moebius syndrome are susceptible to hearing loss.
Moebius syndrome has been linked to dental problems as well. Kids dealing with this condition are prone to cavities and other oral health issues. In addition, they can have trouble speaking clearly and experience speech delays.
Along with the aforementioned abnormalities, skeletal problems have been associated with Moebius syndrome. Kids diagnosed with Moebius syndrome are susceptible to clubbed feet and other lower leg abnormalities, along with webbed fingers and other malformations that affect the upper extremities.
What Causes Moebius Syndrome?
Moebius syndrome cases are frequently isolated and impact patients who previously had no family history of the condition, the Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center notes. However, a small portion of Moebius syndrome cases have been reported in multiple blood relatives.
Meanwhile, the U.S. National Library of Medicine states Moebius syndrome may be related to blood flow changes in the brain stem that occur during early embryonic development. Although research has been conducted to study why these changes may occur, additional studies are required to fully understand their potential link to Moebius syndrome.
How Is Moebius Syndrome Diagnosed?
At least one estimate suggests Moebius syndrome affects approximately one out of every 50,000 live births in the United States, NORD reports. Yet, a lack of Moebius syndrome diagnostic tests can make it difficult to properly identify and treat the condition.
If a patient displays symptoms of Moebius syndrome, a review of their medical history and a physical exam can be performed. Specialized tests can also be used to verify if the patient is dealing with other types of facial paralysis.
How Is Moebius Syndrome Treated?
The ideal treatment for Moebius syndrome varies based on the severity of a patient’s symptoms and other factors. Once a patient receives a Moebius syndrome diagnosis, a personalized treatment plan is developed to ensure the patient can safely and effectively treat their symptoms.
A temporalis tendon transfer is one of the treatment options available to correct Moebius syndrome symptoms. This treatment involves reattachment of the temporalis muscle (used for chewing) to the corner of the mouth.
During a temporalis tendon transfer, a small incision is made near the laugh lines of a Moebius syndrome patient’s mouth. Next, the temporalis muscle tendon is rotated and connected to the corner of the mouth. The result: a temporalis tendon transfer can restore dynamic facial movement and improve facial symmetry in Moebius syndrome patients.
A bilateral gracilis muscle transfer to the masseter nerve is another option to help patients dealing with Moebius syndrome. The procedure involves harvesting the gracilis muscle (found in the inner thigh) and transferring it to a patient’s face.
With a bilateral gracilis muscle transfer to the masseter nerve, a small portion of a Moebius syndrome patient’s gracilis muscle is taken from each thigh. Then, the muscle is transferred to both sides of a patient’s face and connected to the masseter nerve, which manages the muscles used for chewing. Following a bilateral gracilis muscle transfer to the masseter nerve, the patient can gradually improve their facial movement within six to nine months after surgery. The patient’s ability to smile improves within a few years of the bilateral gracilis muscle transfer to the masseter nerve procedure as well.
Bilateral selective neurolysis is a revolutionary treatment available to Moebius syndrome patients. The surgery involves releasing the platysma muscles that pull the corners of the mouth down and otherwise hamper a patient’s ability to smile. To date, bilateral selective neurolysis has helped Moebius syndrome patients regain the ability to naturally smile, frown, and make other facial expressions.
Eyelid reconstruction can be performed for Moebius syndrome patients who experience crossed eyes or eyelid closure issues. Platinum chains, eyelid springs, and other eyelid reconstruction treatment options are offered, and they can help Moebius syndrome patients improve their vision and tighten their eyelid muscles.
Which Moebius Syndrome Treatment Option Is Right for You?
Patients who have been diagnosed with Moebius syndrome but are uncertain about how to treat the condition can consult with Dr. Babak Azizzadeh of The Facial Paralysis Institute. Dr. Azizzadeh is globally recognized for his facial plastic and reconstructive surgery and head and neck surgery expertise, and he can meet with a Moebius syndrome patient to explore a variety of treatment options. To learn more or to schedule a treatment consultation with Dr. Azizzadeh, please contact us online or call us today at (310) 657-2203.
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