In the past five years, 477 patients with various focal dystonias and hemifacial spasm received 3,806 injections of botulinum A toxin for relief of involuntary spasms. A definite improvement with a global rating greater than or equal to 2 on a 0-4 scale, was obtained in all 13 patients with spasmodic dysphonia, 94% of 70 patients with blepharospasm, 92% of 13 patients with hemifacial spasm, 90% of 195 patients with cervical dystonia, 77% of 22 patients with hand dystonia, 73% of 45 patients with oromandibular dystonia, and in 90% of 21 patients with other focal dystonia who had adequate follow up. While the average duration of maximum improvement lasted about 11 weeks after an injection (range seven weeks in patients with hand dystonia to 15 weeks in patients with hemifacial spasm), some patients benefited for over a year. Only 16% of the 941 treatment visits with follow up were not successful. Except for transient focal weakness, there were very few complications or systemic effects attributed to the injections. This study supports the conclusion that botulinum toxin injections are a safe and effective therapy for patients with focal dystonia and hemifacial spasm.
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