Electrical activation of the orbicularis oculi muscle does not increase the effectiveness of botulinum toxin type A in patients with blepharospasm

A. Conte, G. Fabbrini, D. Belvisi, L. Marsili, F. Di Stasio, A. Berardelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Our primary aim in this study was to determine whether electrically induced activation of the injected muscle increases effectiveness of botulinum type A toxin (BonT-A) in patients with blepharospasm (BPS). The second aim was to assess the safety of BonT-A by investigating whether BonT-A injection alters the excitability of blink reflex circuits in the brainstem. Methods: Twenty-three patients with BPS received BonT-A (Botox) injected bilaterally into the orbicularis oculi muscle at a standard dose. In 18 patients, electrically induced muscle activation of the orbicularis oculi muscle on one side was performed for 60 min (4 Hz frequency) in a single session, immediately after BonT-A injection and in five patients for 60 min once a day for five consecutive days. The severity of BPS was assessed clinically with the BPS score. Compound muscle action potential (cMAPs) from the orbicularis oculi muscles were measured bilaterally. The blink reflex recovery cycle was studied at interstimulus intervals of 250 and 500 ms. Participants underwent clinical and neurophysiological assessment before BonT-A injection (T0) and 2 weeks thereafter (T1). Results: Compound muscle action potential amplitude significantly decreased at T1 but did not differ between stimulated and non-stimulated orbicularis oculi in the two groups. BonT-A injection left the blink reflex recovery cycle tested on the stimulated and non-stimulated sides unchanged. Conclusions: In patients with BPS, the electrically induced muscle activation neither increases the effectiveness of BonT-A nor produces larger electrophysiological peripheral effects. The lack of BonT-A-induced changes in the blink reflex recovery cycle provides evidence that BonT-A therapy is safe in patients with BPS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)449-455
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Journal of Neurology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


  • Blepharospasm
  • Botulinum toxin
  • Muscle activation
  • Safety

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology


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