NYMC Faculty Publications


Outcome of Facial Palsy from Lyme Disease in Prospectively Followed Patients Who Had Received Corticosteroids

Document Type


Publication Date

August 2018




Although a short course of corticosteroid therapy has been shown to improve the outcome of idiopathic facial nerve palsy (Bell's palsy), it is unclear whether corticosteroids, in addition to antibiotic therapy, are beneficial, are harmful, or have no impact on the outcome of facial palsy from Lyme disease (LDFP). From 2011 through 2016, 14 patients with LDFP were enrolled into a prospective study to determine the outcome of Lyme disease over the ensuing 12months. Eleven (78.6%) had received corticosteroids in addition to oral antibiotics and entered the study within 24days after onset of the LDFP (median 14days, range 2-24days). Overall, 6 of the corticosteroid-treated patients (54.5%, 95% C.I.: 28.0% to 78.7%) had evidence of residual dysfunction of the facial nerve at the last evaluation, which occurred at a mean of 13.1months after the baseline visit (range 9.6-19.6months). In conclusion, although corticosteroids are frequently prescribed for LDFP, the efficacy of this therapy has not been established. Like another recent report, our study raises concern about the safety of adjunctive corticosteroid treatment for LDFP. A well-designed, prospective clinical trial is needed to determine the risk-to-benefit ratio of corticosteroid therapy for LDFP.