Facial Nerve Test

Access a free Facial Nerve Test template to streamline your documentation. Learn how to perform a facial nerve exam with this guide.

By Ericka Pingol on Apr 08, 2024.

Fact Checked by Nate Lacson.

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Understanding the facial nerve and its functions

The facial nerve, also known as the seventh cranial nerve, is responsible for controlling the muscles of the face and enabling facial expressions. It is one of twelve pairs of cranial nerves that originate from the brain and play important roles in various bodily functions.

The facial nerve has three main divisions - motor, sensory, and parasympathetic - each with its own specific functions. The motor division controls the muscles of facial expression, the sensory division supplies sensation to parts of the face and tongue, and the parasympathetic division controls tear production and salivation (Seneviratne & Patel, 2020).

These divisions work together to control movements of the face, sensation in the tongue and ear, and secretion of saliva and tears (Walker, 1990). Moreover, the facial nerve also plays a crucial role in maintaining the corneal reflex, which protects the eye from irritants (Dulak & Naqvi, 2023).

Printable Facial Nerve Test

Download the Facial Nerve Test template to help streamline and document the test findings.

Facial nerve disorders

Various disorders can affect the facial nerve, leading to impairments in facial expression and other functions. Some of these are:

Bell's Palsy

One of the most common facial nerve disorders is Bell's palsy, which is a condition that causes temporary weakness or paralysis of the facial muscles. The exact cause of this disorder is unknown, but it is believed to be due to inflammation and swelling of the facial nerve.

Trigeminal nerve lesions

Lesions or damage to the trigeminal nerve, which is responsible for sensory function in the face, can also affect facial nerve function. This can result in a loss of sensation or altered sensation in parts of the face.

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome

Ramsay Hunt Syndrome is a viral infection that affects the facial nerve and causes facial paralysis and other symptoms such as ear pain and rash. It is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, which also causes chickenpox and shingles.

Facial nerve tumors

Tumors can also affect the facial nerve, leading to compression or damage. These tumors can be benign or malignant, and they may require surgical removal depending on their size and location.

Disorders of the glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves

Disorders of these cranial nerves can lead to salivation, taste, and gag reflex issues, as the glossopharyngeal nerve innervates the parotid gland and affects the sensation in the anterior two-thirds of the tongue. The vagus nerve is especially critical, as it impacts voice and swallowing through the recurrent laryngeal nerve and contributes to the gag reflex.

Assessing the cranial nerve II

A cranial nerve examination is a standard neurological assessment, and the facial nerve can be assessed using the Facial Nerve Test.

This test involves asking the patient to perform various facial movements, such as smiling, frowning, raising their eyebrows, and closing their eyes tightly. The physician will also check for any weakness or asymmetry in these movements.

In addition to the Facial Nerve Test, other assessments may include checking the corneal reflex, which helps to evaluate the function of both the facial nerve (CN VII) responsible for the blinking reflex, and the trigeminal nerve (CN V), which provides the sensation. Cranial nerves are fundamental in conveying information between the brain and various parts of the body; hence, examining each is critical.

For instance, the accessory nerve (CN XI) is tested by examining the strength and movement of the shoulder and neck muscles. In contrast, the olfactory nerve (CN I) is evaluated through the patient's ability to smell.

Similarly, the optic nerve (CN II) is crucial for vision and is assessed using various methods, such as the visual acuity test and examining the responses of the pupil to light. Each cranial nerve provides unique insights into the nervous system’s health and potential neurological disorders.

How to use this Facial Nerve Test template

Our free Facial Nerve Test template makes it easy for you to conduct the exam and document findings. Follow these steps to get started:

Step 1: Get a copy of the template

Access the free Facial Nerve Test template using the link on this page. You may also get a copy via the Careparton app or our resources library. You can either print the template or use it in a digital format.

Step 2: Prepare your patient for examination

Explain the purpose and procedure of the exam to your patient, and ensure they are comfortable throughout the process. Ask the patient to remove any makeup or facial accessories that may interfere with the examination.

Step 4: Perform the Facial Nerve Test

Follow the steps on the template to test all aspects of cranial nerve function, including motor and sensory functions.

Step 5: Document your findings

Record any abnormalities or notable observations during the exam in the designated spaces on the template. This will be a comprehensive record of the patient's cranial nerve health.

Step 6: Share results with your patient

After completing the Facial Nerve Test, share your findings with the patient and discuss the next steps, if necessary. This will allow them to understand their cranial nerve health and take any necessary actions for their well-being.

Facial Nerve Test example

Our team has written a sample completed Facial Nerve Test PDF to guide you through the process and help you understand how to document your findings. You can view it here or download a PDF copy for free.

Download this free Facial Nerve Test example here:

Facial Nerve Test example

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Dulak, D., & Naqvi, I. A. (2023). Neuroanatomy, cranial nerve 7 (facial). In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK526119/

Seneviratne, S. O., & Patel, B. C. (2020). Facial nerve anatomy and clinical applications. In StatPearls. StatPearls Publishing; National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554569/

Walker, H. K. (1990). Cranial Nerve VII: The Facial Nerve and Taste. In Clinical Methods: the History, Physical, and Laboratory Examinations. Butterworths. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK385/

What is the Facial Nerve Test, and why is it important after parotid gland surgery?
What is the Facial Nerve Test, and why is it important after parotid gland surgery?

Commonly asked questions

What is the Facial Nerve Test, and why is it important after parotid gland surgery?

The Facial Nerve Test is an assessment used to determine the integrity and function of the facial nerve, which is crucial after parotid gland surgery due to the proximity of the facial nerve to the surgical site. It can help detect any nerve impairment or damage post-operation.

How does the Facial Nerve Test assess the function of the oculomotor nerve?

While the primary focus of the Facial Nerve Test is on the facial nerve, it may provide incidental information about the oculomotor nerve function through observation of eye movements and eyelid closure during the test.

Can the Facial Nerve Test help in evaluating the gag reflex?

The Facial Nerve Test itself does not directly assess the gag reflex as the vagus nerve and the glossopharyngeal nerve mediate this reflex. However, ask the patient to perform specific movements that can indirectly indicate whether the gag reflex is intact.

How does the Facial Nerve Test relate to the anterior two-thirds of the tongue?

The Facial Nerve Test can include assessing the patient's ability to taste on the anterior two-thirds of the tongue, as the chorda tympani branch of the facial nerve facilitates this region's sensory taste pathways.

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