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Pain. 2009 May;143(1-2):41-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pain.2009.01.014. Epub 2009 Feb 18.

Intrathecal baclofen for dystonia of complex regional pain syndrome.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Leiden University Medical Center, P.O. Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands.


Dystonia in complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) responds poorly to treatment. Intrathecal baclofen (ITB) may improve this type of dystonia, but information on its efficacy and safety is limited. A single-blind, placebo-run-in, dose-escalation study was carried out in 42 CRPS patients to evaluate whether dystonia responds to ITB. Thirty-six of the 38 patients, who met the responder criteria received a pump for continuous ITB administration, and were followed up for 12 months to assess long-term efficacy and safety (open-label study). Primary outcome measures were global dystonia severity (both studies) and dystonia-related functional limitations (open-label study). The dose-escalation study showed a dose-effect of baclofen on dystonia severity in 31 patients in doses up to 450 microg/day. One patient did not respond to treatment in the dose-escalation study and three patients dropped out. Thirty-six patients entered the open-label study. Intention-to-treat analysis revealed a substantial improvement in patient and assessor-rated dystonia scores, pain, disability and quality-of-life (Qol) at 12 months. The response in the dose-escalation study did not predict the response to ITB in the open-label study. Eighty-nine adverse events occurred in 26 patients and were related to baclofen (n=19), pump/catheter system defects (n=52), or could not be specified (n=18). The pump was explanted in six patients during the follow-up phase. Dystonia, pain, disability and Qol all improved on ITB and remained efficacious over a period of one year. However, ITB is associated with a high complication rate in this patient group, and methods to improve patient selection and catheter-pump integrity are warranted.

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