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Update on pediatric dystonias: etiology, epidemiology, and management

Authors Fernández-Alvarez E, Nardocci N

Received 20 December 2011

Accepted for publication 18 February 2012

Published 12 April 2012 Volume 2012:2 Pages 29—41


Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Emilio Fernández-Alvarez1, Nardo Nardocci2
1Neuropediatric Department, Hospital San Juan de Dios, Barcelona, Spain; 2Child Neurology Department, Fondazione IRCCS Istituto Neurologico "C. Besta", Milano, Italy

Abstract: Dystonia is a movement disorder characterized by sustained muscle contractions producing twisting, repetitive, and patterned movements or abnormal postures. Dystonia is among the most commonly observed movement disorders in clinical practice both in adults and children. It is classified on the basis of etiology, age at onset of symptoms, and distribution of affected body regions.
Etiology: The etiology of pediatric dystonia is quite heterogeneous. There are many different genetic syndromes and several causes of symptomatic syndromes. Dystonia can be secondary to virtually any pathological process that affects the motor system, and particularly the basal ganglia.
Classification: The etiological classification distinguishes primary dystonia with no identifiable exogenous cause or evidence of neurodegeneration and secondary syndromes.
Treatment: Treatment for most forms of dystonia is symptomatic and includes drugs (systemic or focal treatments, such as botulinum toxin) and surgical procedures. There are several medications including anticholinergic, dopamine-blocking and depleting agents, baclofen, and benzodiazepines. In patients with dopamine synthesis defects L-dopa treatment may be very useful. Botulinum toxin treatment may be helpful in controlling the most disabling symptoms of segmental or focal dystonia. Long-term electrical stimulation of the globus pallidum internum appears to be especially successful in children suffering from generalized dystonia.

Keywords: movement disorders, pediatric dystonia, primary dystonias, secondary dystonias

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