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Neurol India. 2002 Dec;50(4):398-407.


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  • 1Department of Neurology, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh - 160 012, India.


Tetanus is a potentially life threatening disease affecting nearly 50,000 to 1 million people world wide every year. Four major clinical forms of tetanus are described i.e. generalized, cephalic, localized and neonatal. Neonatal tetanus is particularly common in developing countries, due to unhygienic child birth practices, social taboos and improper immunization of pregnant mothers. Management of this disorder involves a team approach and aims at eradicating focus of infection, neutralizing the toxin, controlling spasms and dysautonomia and providing adequate ventilatory and supportive care. Metronidazole may be the preferred antibiotic although penicillin is still used frequently. Adequate wound debridement is necessary to prevent spore germination. Spasms are usually managed by sedatives like diazepam and neuromuscular blocking agents. Magnesium sulphate is an attractive substitute and may be tried if ventilatory facilities are unavailable. Use of baclofen is potentially advantageous but cannot be routinely prescribed. Dysautonomia is difficult to manage and requires therapy with benzodiazepines, morphine, magnesium sulphate, adrenergic blockers and recently tried baclofen therapy. Supportive care including ventilatory assistance are highly essential for successful outcome of the patients. It is imperative that complications are diagnosed early and managed appropriately. Immunization is extremely effective and is the key to prevention. Adequate steps and measures should be taken to increase awareness of this potentially preventable disease.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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