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Dev Med Child Neurol. 2000 Feb;42(2):116-21.

Analgesic effects of botulinum toxin A: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.

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The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, The Royal Children's Hospital, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.


Postoperative pain in children with spastic cerebral palsy (CP) is often attributed to muscle spasm and is difficult to manage using opiates and benzodiazepines. Adductor-release surgery to treat or prevent hip dislocation in children with spastic CP is frequently performed and is often accompanied by severe postoperative pain and spasm. A double-blinded, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 16 patients (mean age 4.7 years) with a mainly spastic type of CP (either diplegic or quadriplegic in distribution) was used to test the hypothesis that a significant proportion of postoperative pain is secondary to muscle spasm and, therefore, might be reduced by a preoperative chemodenervation of the target surgical muscle by intramuscular injection of botulinum toxin A (BTX/A). Compared with the placebo, BTX/A was found to be associated with a reduction in mean pain scores of 74% (P<0.003), a reduction in mean analgesic requirements of approximately 50% (P<0.005), and a reduction in mean length of hospital admission of 33% (P<0.003). It was concluded that an important component of postoperative pain in the patient population is due to muscle spasm and this can be managed effectively by preoperative injection with BTX/A. These findings may have implications for the management of pain secondary to muscle spasm in other clinical settings.

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