A quirk of the face

“Laughter is sunshine, it chases the winter from the human face…”

Victor Hugo

If you are into surgery of the parotid gland, you soon become obsessed with the fate of the facial nerve. Like most aspects of life, things are often more complex than they seem at first. Frey’s syndrome is a disorder resulting from damage to the fibres of the auriculo-temporal nerve, at or near the parotid. The parasympathetic nerves that usually stimulate salivation, incorrectly re-innervate the skin over the gland and you can experience profuse facial sweating and flushing when eating. It is rare, usually subtle and is more of an oddity than a disability. One interesting aspect is that the syndrome was described by a Polish neurologist, Lucja Frey-Gottesman. She published the first anatomical explanation of the problem in 1923. It is nice to be able to recognise the voice of a woman in the world of surgical syndromes, rather than the usual male suspects. Sadly, Frey perished during the Holocaust in 1942, at the Lwow Ghetto in Poland. #artandanatomy #letsmakelemonade

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