Botulinum toxin type A therapy for blepharospasm

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Background: This is an update of a Cochrane Review first published in 2005. Blepharospasm is the second most common form of focal dystonia. It is a disabling disorder, characterised by chronic, intermittent or persistent, involuntary eyelid closure, due to spasmodic contractions of the orbicularis oculi muscles. Currently, botulinum toxin type A (BtA) is considered the first line of therapy for this condition. Objectives: To compare the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of BtA versus placebo in people with blepharospasm. Search methods: We searched Cochrane Movement Disorders' Trials Register, CENTRAL, MEDLINE, Embase, reference lists of included articles, and conference proceedings. We ran all elements of the search, with no language restrictions, in July 2020. Selection criteria: Double-blind, parallel, randomised, placebo-controlled trials (RCTs) of BtA versus placebo in adults with blepharospasm. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently assessed records, selected included studies, extracted data using a paper pro forma, and evaluated the risk of bias. We resolved disagreements by consensus, or by consulting a third review author. We performed meta-analyses using a random-effects model, for the comparison of BtA versus placebo, to estimate pooled effects and corresponding 95% confidence intervals (95% CI). We did not carry out any prespecified subgroup analyses. The primary efficacy outcome was improvement on any validated symptomatic rating scale. The primary safety outcome was the proportion of participants with any adverse event. Main results: We included three RCTs, assessed at low to moderate overall risk of bias, which randomised 313 participants with blepharospasm. Two studies excluded participants with poorer prior responses to BtA treatment, therefore, they included an enriched population with a higher probability of benefiting from this therapy. All trials were industry-funded. All RCTs evaluated the effect of a single BtA treatment session. BtA resulted in a moderate to large improvement in blepharospasm-specific severity, with a reduction of 0.93 points on the Jankovic Rating Scale (JRS) severity subscale at four to six weeks after injection (95% confidence interval (CI) 0.61 to 1.25; I² = 9%) compared to placebo. BtA was also resulted in a moderate to large improvement in blepharospasm-specific disability and blepharospasm-specific involuntary movements at four to six weeks after injection (disability: 0.69 JRS disability subscale points, 95% CI 0.18 to 1.19; I² = 74%; blepharospasm-specific involuntary movements: standardised mean difference (SMD) 0.79, 0.31 to 1.27; I² = 58%) compared to placebo. BtA did not show a risk of adverse events (risk ratio (RR) 1.18, 95% CI 0.87 to 1.60; I² = 0%). However, BtA increased the risk of vision complaints and eyelid ptosis (vision complaints: RR 5.73, 95% CI 1.79 to 18.36; I² = 51%; eyelid ptosis: RR 4.02, 95% CI 1.61 to 10.00; I² = 39%). There was no distinction between BtA and placebo in the number of participants who dropped out of the trial. A single trial estimated the duration of effects to be 10.6 weeks (range 6.1 to 19.1). We found no evidence supporting the existence of a clear dose-response relationship with BtA. We found no data reporting the impact of BtA on health-related quality of life, or the development of secondary non-responsiveness. Authors' conclusions: We are moderately certain that a single BtA treatment resulted in a clinically relevant reduction of blepharospasm-specific severity and disability, and have low certainty that it is well tolerated, when compared with placebo. There is low-certainty evidence that people treated with BtA are not at an increased risk of developing adverse events, though BtA treatment likely increases the risk of visual complaints and eyelid ptosis. There are no data from RCTs evaluating the effectiveness and safety of repeated BtA injection cycles. There is no evidence from RCTs to allow us to draw definitive conclusions on the optimal treatment intervals and doses, or the impact on quality of life.




Duarte, G. S., Rodrigues, F. B., Marques, R. E., Castelão, M., Ferreira, J., Sampaio, C., … Costa, J. (2020, November 19). Botulinum toxin type A therapy for blepharospasm. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd.

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