Objectives: Nocturnal disabilities leading to fragmented sleep arising from parkinsonian off period related complications are common, under-reported and are difficult to treat. In this study, we evaluate the use of nocturnal continuous subcutaneous overnight apomorphine infusion in Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome.
Methods: Six parkinsonian patients and 2 patients with restless legs syndrome with nocturnal disabilities refractory to conventional oral therapy were assessed using a sleep diary while on standard treatment and during nocturnal apomorphine infusion. Three patients agreed to assessments during placebo infusion with normal saline.
Results: Apomorphine led to a dramatic reduction of nocturnal awakenings, nocturnal off periods, pain, dystonia and nocturia in parkinsonian patients. In patients with restless legs syndrome, apomorphine reduced nocturnal discomfort, reduced leg movements and improved pain and spasm scores significantly. Placebo infusion reproduced pain, nocturnal spasms and sleep disruption.
Conclusion: This study suggests that overnight apomorphine infusion may be effective in overcoming refractory nocturnal disabilities in selected patients with Parkinson's disease and restless legs syndrome.