Objectives: Botulinum toxin A has conventionally been used in the upper extremity to treat spasticity resulting from stroke, paraplegia, and dystonia. Recently, it has been used to relieve symptoms of vasospasm in Raynaud's phenomenon. This review summarizes the current literature on botulinum toxin A in the treatment of Raynaud's phenomenon and examines the proposed mechanisms of action, suggested techniques of administration, and clinical efficacy.
Methods: An Ovid MEDLINE search from 1950 to September 2010 was performed to identify any reports on the use of Botulinum toxin in the treatment of Raynaud's disease or associated vasoconstrictive disorders. All studies pertaining to "Raynaud's disease," "Raynaud's," or "vasoconstriction" were queried and meshed with a secondary search of studies pertaining to "botox" or "botulinum toxin type A." These reports were meshed and subsequently limited to human studies. All studies that met criteria were included and their outcomes evaluated and summarized.
Results: Since 2004, there have been 5 studies that have evaluated the use of Botulinum Toxin A for the treatment of Raynaud's. In each study, patients received a range of botulinum toxin injections (10-100 units) in their fingers and hands. The studies have many limitations (lack of controls, variable severity of disease, variability of dosing) but all report favorable clinical results. All showed overall improvement in patient pain as well as a reduction in soft tissue ulceration.
Conclusions: Initial reports on the use of botulinum toxin A for Raynaud's phenomenon are promising. Larger controlled trials with improved study design are warranted. A better understanding of the mechanism of action, appropriate dose and dose frequency, and the efficacy relative to other medical and surgical treatments requires investigation.
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