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Localizing Muscles for Botulinum Toxin Treatment of Focal Hand Dystonia

     C Geenen, E Consky and P Ashby

Abstract:   Background: There is currently no consensus on the best way to localize muscles in the forearm for botulinum toxin (BTX) injection. We devised a study to compare electromyography (EMG) with local stimulation through a cannula for localizing forearm muscles for botulinum toxin (BTX) injection, and for predicting the risk of unwanted weakness in non-target muscles. Methods: In 12 patients with focal hand dystonia a single "target" muscle, determined by clinical examination to contribute most to the dystonic hand posture, was selected for botulinum toxin injection. The patients were randomized into 2 treatment groups, one in which the target muscle was localized by recording the EMG signals during voluntary contractions (8 patients) and the other in which the target muscle was localized by local electrical stimulation (4 patients). The target muscle was then injected with a standardized dose of BTX. Results: At follow-up 3 weeks after BTX injection the target muscle was weakened in 7/12 patients (4/8 of the EMG group, and 3/4 of the stimulation group). Additional non-injected muscles, adjacent to the target muscle, were weakened in 5 of these 7 patients, presumably from diffusion of the toxin. Conclusions: Localization by stimulation is probably at least as good as EMG. Each technique has certain advantages. Weakness of "non-target" muscles was not consistently predicted by either EMG or stimulation suggesting that BTX diffuses farther than the volume conduction of EMG signals or the spread of effective stimulus current.

Can. J. Neurol. Sci. 1996; 23: 194-197


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