The efficacy of different techniques of facial nerve block for cataract surgery was investigated. Forty four patients underwent either modified O'Brien, Atkinson, van Lint, or lid blocks. Intentional muscle activity of the orbicularis oculi muscle was recorded and the area under the EMG curve calculated for quantitative comparison of muscle activity between the groups before and after injection of lignocaine with the vasoconstrictor naphazoline nitrate. In addition, the force of lid closure was measured and lid motility determined on a subjective score scale. Whereas the modified O'Brien and lid blocks nearly abolished the muscle activity recorded in the EMG (p < 0.003), the Atkinson and van Lint blocks did not significantly affect these variables. The O'Brien and lid blocks decreased the force of lid closure and lid movements far more effectively than the Atkinson and van Lint blocks (p < 0.0001). The topographic distribution of a mixture of metrizamide and lignocaine solutions was evaluated radiographically in eight additional patients, to assess potential causes for differences in the efficacy of the block techniques. The radiological results showed involvement of the region of the facial nerve trunk and its temporal and cervical divisions by the modified O'Brien block. The lid block, on the other hand, affected terminal branches of the facial nerve's temporal division. In this study, complete lid akinesia was achieved by both the modified O'Brien block and the lid block. However, because the modified O'Brien block involves the risk of neural injury to the facial nerve or its main divisions, the lid block is recommended as the most effective and safe method to achieve akinesia of the orbicularis oculi muscle.
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