Neurophysiological observations on the effects of botulinum toxin treatment in patients with dystonic blepharospasm.
Botulinum toxin treatment improves dystonic blepharospasm by inducing transient paresis of the orbicularis oculi muscle. It is not known if it also reduces the enhanced brainstem neuronal excitability found in this disorder. We have performed conventional electromyography (EMG) and blink reflex excitability studies on fifteen patients with blepharospasm before and after botulinum toxin treatment. Denervation signs were found with needle EMG in all treated muscles. Amplitude of the facial compound muscle action potential (CMAP) and R1 response was reduced after botulinum toxin injections. In blink reflex excitability studies, the recovery of R2 response was enhanced after treatment even when patients were tested at the time of maximal benefit from botulinum toxin injections. The results suggest that there is little influence of botulinum toxin treatment upon the enhanced excitability of brainstem interneurons in patients with blepharospasm.