To evaluate the safety and efficacy of botulinum toxin A (BTX) injections in the treatment of tics in patients with Tourette syndrome (TS).
BTX is an effective treatment for an increasing number of conditions characterized by abnormal muscle contractions. BTX may improve not only the motor component of tics, but also premonitory sensations that precede tics.
Thirty-five patients (30 male, 5 female) were treated with BTX in the sites of their most problematic tics. Response to BTX was based on a 0 to 4 clinical rating scale (0, no improvement, to 4, marked improvement in both severity and function). Questionnaires were administered to evaluate patients' impressions of overall efficacy and degree of benefit with premonitory sensations.
Mean duration of tics prior to initial injection was 15.3 years (range, 1-62 years) and mean duration of follow-up was 21.2 months (range, 1.5-84 months). The mean peak effect response in 35 patients treated in 115 sessions was 2.8 (range, 0-4); the mean duration of benefit was 14.4 weeks (maximum, 45 weeks); and the mean latency to onset of benefit was 3.8 days (maximum, 10 days). Twenty-one (84%) of 25 patients with premonitory sensations derived marked relief of these symptoms (mean benefit, 70.6%). Total mean dose was 502.1 U (range, 15-3550 U); mean number of visits, 3.3 (range, 1-16); and mean dose per visit, 119.9 U (range, 15-273 U). Sites of injections were as follows: cervical or upper thoracic area (17), upper face (14), lower face (7), vocal cords (4), upper back and/or shoulder (3), scalp (1), forearm (1), leg (1) and rectus abdominis (1). Complications included neck weakness (4), dysphagia (2), ptosis (2), nausea (1), hypophonia (1), fatigue (1), and generalized weakness (1), which were all mild and transient.
Botulinum toxin A injections are an effective and well-tolerated treatment of tics. In addition to improving the motor component of tics, BTX also provides relief of premonitory sensations.