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Vol. 42, No. 1, 1999
Issue release date: July 1999

Gabapentin as Treatment for Hemifacial Spasm

Bandini F. · Mazzella L.
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Hemifacial spasm, a life-long condition characterized by involuntary unilateral contractions of the facial muscles, is a disabling disorder often resulting in patient irritation and social embarassment. Its probable etiology is neurovascular compression of the facial nerve at its root exit zone. The current medical treatment consists of either baclofen or anticonvulsant drugs, with limitation due to side effects or low efficacy. In recent years botulinum toxin injection and microvascular decompression of the facial nerve have been shown to be highly successful. However, both procedures share some complications and require special techniques. We present 5 patients affected by hemifacial spasm who responded well to the novel anticonvulsant drug gabapentin. Gabapentin was administered at a dose ranging from 900 to 1,600 mg daily, with rapid and clear improvement of spasms and absence of any remarkable adverse effects. Our findings suggest that gabapentin may be an effective treatment for patients with hemifacial spasm with a very good ratio of therapeutic effects to side effects when compared with other drugs currently used.

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Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
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