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Keywords:

  • Botulinum toxin;
  • Single-fiber EMG;
  • Focal dystonia

Abstract

Botulinum toxin A (btx) is used to treat focal dystonias. From accidental intoxications it is known that btx can cause generalized pathologic single-fiber electromyography (SFEMG) findings. We monitored the onset and course of these disturbances in eight patients who received a small dose of btx (2–22 ng) for therapy of focal dystonias in the head/neck region for the first time via repeated SFEMG investigations at days 0, 3, 6, 9, 12, 28, and 56. Recordings were performed in the extensor digitoum brevis muscle, and in two patients additionally in the tibialis anterior muscle. In six of these patients we found an increase of jitter and blocking. The onset of these changes was in the range of 3–13 days after injection. Fiber density showed a tendency to increase. There was no correlation between SFEMG findings and the dose of injected btx. Possible mechanisms for these observations may be either a very efficient local uptake and retrograde axonal transport via the spinal motor neurons or a systemic distribution via the blood circulation.