Gabapentin as Treatment for Hemifacial SpasmBandini F. · Mazzella L.
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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