Möbius syndrome

A.Prof Frank Gaillard et al.

Möbius syndrome, also known as congenital facial diplegia syndrome, is a rare congenital condition characterized by the absence or underdevelopment of the abducens nerve (CN VI) and facial nerve (CN VII) nuclei.

Möbius syndrome is rare with an estimated incidence of ~1 case per 100,000 births 4.

The earliest sign is the inability of the newborn to suckle, with an expressionless face, and drooling. Paralysis may be unilateral or bilateral. 

As individuals grow older, the most conspicuous signs are an inability to close their mouths or smile. Also blinking or closing the eyes is impossible. 

Etiology is multifactorial, and several theories have been proposed, with the most supported theory being of a transient ischemic or hypoxic insult to the fetus. Infectious and genetic etiologies have also been proposed.

Additional brainstem involvement is also common and may include other cranial nerves as well as the musculoskeletal system. Grading schemes have been proposed which include additional manifestations (e.g. CLUFT (cranial nerve, lower limb, upper limb, face, and thorax)).

The combination of Möbius syndrome and Poland syndrome has been well described (thus Poland-Möbius syndrome) 3.

MRI findings are those of brainstem hypoplasia (pons and medulla) with straightening of the floor of the fourth ventricle as a result of absence of the facial colliculus. Cerebellar hypoplasia, calcification of the pons in the region of the abducens nuclei and even absence of the middle cerebellar peduncles have been reported.

The disease is not progressive.

Various plastic surgery procedures can be performed to attempt to recover facial muscles function. For example, microvascular transfer of a gracilis muscle to the face. 

The clinical syndrome was first described by Paul Julius Möbius (1853-1907): German neurologist.

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Article information

rID: 1711
Section: Syndromes
Synonyms or Alternate Spellings:
  • Mobius syndrome
  • Moebius syndrome
  • Moebius sequence
  • Mobius sequence
  • Sindrome de Moebius
  • congenital facial diplegia syndrome
  • congenital oculofacial paralysis

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