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Restless legs syndrome: differential diagnosis and management with rotigotine

Authors Merlino G, Serafini A, Robiony F, Valente M, Gigli G

Published 21 January 2009 Volume 2009:5 Pages 67—80


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 4

Giovanni Merlino1,3, Anna Serafini1, Francesca Robiony2, Mariarosaria Valente1,3, Gian Luigi Gigli1,3

1Sleep Disorder Center, Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology; 2Pharmacy Unit, Santa Maria della Misericordia University Hospital, Udine, Italy; 3DPMSC, University of Udine, Italy

Abstract: RLS is a common sleep disorder with distinctive clinical features. The prevalence of RLS in Caucasians and North Americans ranges from 5% to 10%. However, only some of these subjects (almost the 3% of the general population) report being affected by a frequent and severe form of the sleep disorder. RLS is diagnosed clinically by means of four internationally recognized criteria that summarize the main characteristics of the sleep disorder. Besides the essential criteria, supportive and associated features of RLS have been established by experts in order to help physicians treat patients with doubtful symptoms. Several clinical conditions may mimic this sleep disorder. In order to increase the sensibility and specificity of RLS diagnosis, doctors should perform a meticulous patient history and then an accurate physical and neurological examination. Dopamine agonists are recognized as the preferred first-line treatment for RLS. Rotigotine is a non-ergoline dopamine agonist with selectivity for D1, D2 and D3 receptors. The drug is administered via transdermal patches which release rotigotine for 24 hours. Four clinical trials demonstrated that this compound is able to improve RLS symptomatology with few and moderate adverse events. Head to head trials are required to compare the efficacy and tolerability of rotigotine with other dopamine agonists administered via oral intake. Rotigotine has been approved by the FDA and EMEA for Parkinson’s disease. For the treatment of moderate to severe idiopathic RLS, rotigotine has been recommended for approval by the EMEA and is under review by the FDA.

Keywords: restless legs syndrome, diagnosis, differential diagnosis, dopamine agonists, rotigotine

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