The name of Sir Charles Bell has been intimately linked with facial palsy since the publication of his collected papers on the anatomy and pathology of the seventh cranial nerve, in 1844. Today, the term "Bell's palsy" is confined to "idiopathic" peripheral facial paralysis, thus excluding cases due to geniculate herpes and other known causes. A large number of cases remain in which the etiology is uncertain and unproved; these are the most frequent, as shown by Park and Watkins (1949), and by Cawthorne (1953).
The last three decades have witnessed an outburst of research into the many problems associated with "idiopathic" facial palsy which is without parallel since Bell's original observations. In particular, special regard has been paid to possible causative factors and attempts have been made to lessen the incidence of permanent cosmetic disability. It is well known that about 80% of all patients regain full function without