Review article: botulinum toxin in the therapy of gastrointestinal motility disorders

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Jul 1;18(1):1-16. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2036.2003.01598.x.


Since 1980, botulinum toxin has been employed for the treatment of various voluntary muscle spastic disorders in the fields of neurology and ophthalmology. More recently, botulinum toxin has been proved to be effective in the therapy of dyskinetic smooth muscle disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. Achalasia and anal fissure are the gastrointestinal disorders in which botulinum toxin therapy has been most extensively investigated. Botulinum toxin is the best treatment option for achalasia in patients whose condition makes them unfit for pneumatic dilation or surgery. In anal fissure, botulinum toxin is highly effective and may become the treatment of choice. In the future, botulinum toxin application in the gastrointestinal tract will be extended to many other gastrointestinal disorders, such as non-achalasic motor disorders of the oesophagus, dysfunction of Oddi's sphincter, achalasia of the internal anal sphincter and others. This article describes the mechanism of action, rationale of employment, indications and side-effects of botulinum toxin application in smooth muscle disorders of the gastrointestinal tract, and compares the results of different techniques of botulinum toxin therapeutic application.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Dyskinesia Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Botulinum Toxins / therapeutic use*
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Gastrointestinal Motility
  • Humans


  • Anti-Dyskinesia Agents
  • Botulinum Toxins