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Clin Neurophysiol. 1999 Sep;110(9):1650-4.

Long-term botulinum toxin treatment of cervical dystonia--EMG changes in injected and noninjected muscles.

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Department of Neurology, Copenhagen Hospital Corporation, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.



To evaluate changes in quantitative EMG of injected and noninjected sternocleidomastoid muscles following long-term unilateral botulinum toxin treatment of cervical dystonia.


We investigated 27 patients with cervical dystonia, who received repeated unilateral botulinum toxin injections of the sternocleidomastoid muscle, with quantitative EMG at rest and at maximal voluntary contraction. The patients had on the average 7.1 botulinum toxin treatments and the follow-up period was on the average 31 months (SD 16).


After the first treatment, the injected sternocleidomastoid muscles showed a significant decrease in turns/s (mean 45%) and amplitude (mean 52%) at rest, and in amplitude at maximal flexion (mean 24%) and rotation (mean 39%). Except for a reduction in turns/s at rotation (mean 19%) no further reductions in EMG parameters were seen after long-term treatment. The contralateral noninjected sternocleidomastoid muscles showed no significant change in EMG activity after the first BT treatment, but after long-term treatment a significant reduction in turns/s and amplitude at both maximal flexion (turns: mean 28%; amplitude: mean 25%) and rotation (turns/s: mean 32%; amplitude: mean 25%) were seen as compared to pretreatment values.


The results indicate that there seems to be no cumulative chemodenervation by repeated botulinum toxin injections of sternocleidomastoid muscles measured by quantitative EMG. Contralateral noninjected sternocleidomastoid muscles however, seem to be affected following long-term treatment. The mechanism behind this finding is unknown.

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