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CASE REPORT
Plane palsy: a case of transient facial weakness during an aircraft flight
  1. Rebecca White1,
  2. David Shackleton2
  1. 1Emergency Department, West Middlesex University Hospital, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, Isleworth, London, UK
  2. 2Emergency Department, West Middlesex University Hospital, Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, Isleworth, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr David Shackleton, david.shackleton{at}chelwest.nhs.uk

Summary

Changes in atmospheric pressure have been reported to cause a transient lower motor neuron weakness of the facial nerve. We report the case of a passenger on an international flight who developed a unilateral facial weakness after take-off which resolved within 45 min. The effect is thought to be due to an ischaemic neuropraxia of the facial nerve caused by increased middle ear pressure compressing the facial nerve in an exposed facial canal. The condition has been commonly reported in scuba-divers but less frequently in airline passengers. Treatment is not necessary.

  • primary care
  • cranial nerves
  • ear, nose and throat/otolaryngology
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Footnotes

  • Contributors RW and DS designed the report, acquired information and analysed related articles (as seen in the Discussion section). They agree to be accountable for the article and to ensure that all questions regarding the accuracy or integrity of the article are investigated and resolved. DS is the second author, who helped edit the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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